WASHINGTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his unfounded attacks on mail-in voting on Thursday, suggesting the result of the 2020 presidential race could never be accurately determined in a Twitter post that would undermine the legitimacy of any winner.
Trump, lagging his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in public opinion polls, has continued to make unsubstantiated attacks on voting by mail as vulnerable to fraud as state officials embrace it as an alternative to in-person balloting during the coronavirus pandemic. Election experts who have studied decades of U.S. elections say fraud is rare.
"Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to 'voters,' or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness!" Trump said in a tweet.
Sixteen states require an excuse to vote absentee, such as illness or travel. The other 34 states allow any registered voter to request a mail ballot. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that the latter system is prone to fraud although Americans have long voted by mail.
One in four ballots in 2016 were cast by mail.
The Nov. 3 election promises to be the nation’s largest test of voting by mail, and the two major parties are locked in numerous lawsuits that will shape how millions of Americans exercise their right to vote.
Democratic voters, meanwhile, are embracing mail ballots at rates well ahead of their Republican counterparts, according to data from recent state and local elections.
The trend has alarmed Republicans, more than two dozen Republican officials from six politically competitive states told Reuters last month. They worry Democrats will bank significantly more mail-in votes by November, a deficit that may be tough to overcome if the pandemic depresses turnout on Election Day. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Scott Malone and Paul Simao)