President Donald Trump fired off a number of conspiracy theories Tuesday about Wisconsin’s Democratic-backed effort to adjust its primary election in light of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming it was all a plot to stifle Republicans.
At his daily briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump falsely claimed that the state’s Democrats spent Monday trying to change Tuesday’s election into an extended mail-ballot-only election in reaction to Trump endorsing a conservative judge for the state’s Supreme Court.
“The Wisconsin Democrats say, ‘Oh, let’s move the election to two months later,‘” Trump said. “They didn’t mind having the election until I endorsed him, which is very interesting. And now they talk about all ‘safety, safety.’ Well, it was 15 minutes after I put out an endorsement that they said we have to move the election. They didn’t want to move the election before.”
Trump’s version of events is false. Democrats filed their lawsuit to ask for election changes on March 18. That was weeks before Trump made the endorsement Monday, which is when Gov. Tony Evers (D) unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the effort in a special session of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Evers pleaded with lawmakers to reschedule the primary for May and conduct it only via mail-in ballot so that Wisconsinites wouldn’t have to choose between casting their votes and maintaining their own health by practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus crisis. As he feared, Tuesday’s election resulted in long voter lines and large gatherings of people across the state, where more than 2,500 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and nearly 100 have died.
When asked who should be held responsible if people get sick, Trump told a reporter, “All I did was endorse a candidate. I don’t know anything about their lines. I don’t know anything about their voting. I love the state.” He then used the opportunity to claim he would win Wisconsin in November’s general election.
As for the extended absentee ballots Wisconsin sought, Trump insisted those are also a Democratic con.
“Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters,” the president fired off, adding, “They collect them, and they get people to go in and sign them, and then they have forgeries in many cases. It’s a horrible thing.”
His remarks come after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked another plan Monday to extend absentee voting in Wisconsin by six days in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Though Trump regularly insists that voter fraud is a massive problem in the U.S., there is no evidence to back up his claims.
There is at least one exception to absentee voting being corrupt, Trump was forced to admit: himself. After his tirade against the practice, a reporter reminded him that he’d recently voted absentee in Florida’s election.
“I can vote by mail because I’m allowed to,” he retorted, hinging his argument on him being an out-of-state voter. Though if his theory about mail-in ballots being fraudulent were true, that detail wouldn’t matter.
“Because I happen to be in the White House and I won’t be able to go to Florida to vote,” he continued. “Let me just say, there’s a big difference between somebody that’s out of state and does a ballot and everything ― sealed. certified and everything else. You see what you have to do with the certifications.”
He then made a strange claim about in-state absentee voters rigging the election by gathering by the thousands in people’s homes.
“You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room,” Trump said, “signing ballots all over the place.”
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