Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) again broke out of the Republican pack Friday to challenge President Donald Trump’s insistence that mail-in ballots in this election are “rigged” — even before a single vote has been cast.
“I don’t know of any evidence that voting by mail would increase voter fraud,” Romney responded when asked about the issue during an interview with the Sutherland Institute think tank.
He insisted it’s “essential” that Americans’ right to vote be protected.
“That’s more important than even the outcome of the vote,” Romney said. “We have got to preserve the principle of democracy, or the trend we’re on is going to continue to get worse.”
When “politicians attack a judicial system, attack a voting system ... attack a free press, these things threaten the foundation upon which not only our own democracy rests but democracies around the world rest,” Romney noted without mentioning Trump’s name.
Trump has come under attack by Democrats and voting rights advocates for blasting mail-in voting even as millions of Americans prepare to send in ballots to avoid the risk of COVID-19 transmission at polling stations. He and first lady Melania Trump just requested their own mail-in ballots for Tuesday’s Republican primary in Florida.
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Critics are now accusing Trump and his recently handpicked postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, of deliberately sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service to increase the risk that mailed-in ballots won’t be delivered in time to be counted — or that the mail-in voting is such a mess that Trump will have an excuse to challenge a loss.
DeJoy has halted letter-carrier overtime and extended mail delivery. Now letter collection boxes are being taken out in some communities and some mail-sorting machines are being removed at postal processing facilities.
Even as DeJoy began making changes that impede the USPS process for speedy mail delivery, 46 states were warned in a letter from the Postal Service that many voters could be disenfranchised because their ballots may not be delivered by state deadlines, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Trump essentially said he was blocking additional funding for the cash-strapped USPS knowing it could hamper the Postal Service’s ability to handle an expected surge of mail-in votes for the Nov. 3 elections.
Romney said that he would “prefer” the government provided “additional funds to states that don’t have as effective voting systems as we do here in Utah for voting by mail.”
He also said he’s concerned that voting machines could be compromised and that security precautions to guard against that should be taken for the in-person tallies.
“My biggest concern, frankly, with regards to voting fraud has been that there would be some kind of hacking of our voting electronic systems and that voting machines or tabulating equipment would be hacked.”