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Donald Trump Put His Own Tweet Attacking “Mail-In” Voting on Official Absentee Ballot Request Forms

Psst, they're the same thing. Pass it on.

Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House

A bunch of voters in North Carolina just received unsolicited absentee ballot request forms in the mail–something Donald Trump has been railing against for months. But these forms, which were sent out by the state’s Republican Party, featured a tweet from Trump himself on the front, along with multiple large pictures of his face.

The tweet featured on the document reads “…Absentee Ballots are fine because you have to go through a precise process to get your voting privilege.” The next bit is blurred out, but originally, it read, “Not so with Mail-Ins. Rigged Election!!! 20% fraudulent ballots?”

By the way, here’s what that tweet from July 10 looks like if you have a bot/misinformation identifying extension installed:

A screenshot of a tweet form Donald Trump with the text crossed out and a "disinformation alert" flag.

Trump keeps trying to make a distinction between absentee voting–which he says is fine and is the way in which he himself usually votes–and “mail-in” voting, which he claims is rife with fraud. Here’s the thing, though: There’s no difference between the two.

What Trump has tried to do is invent a whole new system of voting that doesn’t exist. He has claimed that states that want to implement or already use mail-in voting plan to send a ballot, unrequested, to every single person living in the state. The implication is that this will send armies of undocumented immigrants, currently imprisoned people, and who knows who else in to vote for Democrats. That’s just a lie Trump and his team have invented to scare their base.

What actually happens in universal vote-by-mail states (of which there are currently just a handful but more are considering expanding in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic) is that every registered voter in the state is automatically mailed an absentee ballot. Not every person–they have to have already gone through the process of registering to vote, which is how the system prevents fraud. Many of those voters won’t return their ballot or will return them late, and some states allow voters to choose to vote in person instead, even after receiving an absentee ballot. (There are safeguards in place to prevent double voting and they’ve been shown to work well.) Trump has tried to frame those unreturned ballots as being sinisterly “unaccounted for,” which just isn’t the case.

The GOP is very good at manipulating language to play to people’s fears. They’ve spent decades doing it in regard to the war on reproductive justice: pro-life, late-term, fetal heartbeat–these are all meaningless terms that they’ve gotten to stick as opposition to abortion rights. Trump is trying desperately to make “mail-in” stick as being something different from absentee, to the point where the Republican Party branded their ballot request form with the concept.

This is a lie they’re going to keep repeating. We don’t have to fall for it.

(via CNN, image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.