WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is opposed to Democratic demands for billions of dollars in new spending for the U.S. Postal Service because it would ease the path for mail-in voting in the November national election that he has claimed without evidence would lead to massive fraud and rig the vote against him.
Trump told the Fox Business Network, “Now they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”
Trump said, "The items are ($25 billion) for the post office and the $3.5 billion for mail-in voting. If we don't make the deal, that means they can't have the money, that means they can't have universal mail-in voting. It just can't happen."
The White House negotiations with opposition Democratic lawmakers have included discussions over the Postal Service funding, along with a broader package of aid for jobless workers, American families, businesses and state and local governments affected by the unabated coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
But the talks collapsed a week ago over the postal funding and the extent of other coronavirus aid, with Democrats calling for more spending and Republicans less. Efforts to resume the talks failed on Wednesday.
In March, the Republican Trump voiced another reason he is opposed to increased mail-in voting – that it would lead to more votes for Democrats.
He said then that it would lead to “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Trump has repeatedly voiced his opposition to mail-in voting, claiming it is rife with fraud, although instances of corruption in U.S. voting have been rare. He did relent a week ago, saying mail-in voting was fine in the southeastern state of Florida because it has been overseen recently by two Republican governors who support him. At the same time, his campaign sued to block expanded mail-voting in the western state of Nevada run by a Democratic governor who has been a sharp Trump critic.
Five of the 50 U.S. states already conduct their elections almost entirely by mail. Numerous state governments have moved swiftly this year to make it easier to vote by mail to ease the fears of voters not wanting to contract the coronavirus by heading to polling places across the country where they would come face to face with other people.
Democrats have attacked Trump for trying to curb the new aid for the Postal Service.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons told MSNBC, "I initially was hopeful this wasn't an intentional effort to throw the election. I am gravely concerned given the recent changes in the leadership of the Postal Service that we've seen by the postmaster general, who I'll remind you was a major Trump campaign contributor.”
New Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has donated $2.7 million to Trump and other Republicans since 2017, has ordered cuts in overtime pay for postal workers in an effort to trim the agency’s chronic financial losses, but critics say it has resulted in slower mail deliveries.
Aside from the possible issue of fraud, expanded mail-in voting has led to delayed vote counts in numerous U.S. states this year in Democratic and Republican primary elections, sometimes leaving the outcomes in doubt for weeks.
Voters by the thousands have requested mail-in ballots, way more than in past elections, rather than go to polling stations in government buildings, schools, churches, fire stations and other places in the midst of the pandemic.
Because of the likely vast increase in mail-in voting, numerous U.S. political analysts have warned that the vote count in the November 3 national election could be delayed well past Election Day, possibly leaving the outcome of Trump’s contest against Democratic candidate Joe Biden in limbo for days or weeks.