Attorney General William Barr delivered a broadside attack on mail-in voting on Thursday, attacking the process as prone to undue influence and coercion.
The Republican also said that mail-in ballots impinge on the historic American tradition of the secret ballot.
Barr was in Phoenix to announce a crackdown on methamphetamine trafficking that netted $43 million in cash seizures, more than 28,000 pounds of the illicit stimulant, more than 1,800 arrests and the seizure of hundreds of guns.
The operation targeted Mexican cartels that smuggled drugs to major U.S. cities and then distributed them nationwide.
But Barr spent the majority of his time answering questions related to nationwide unrest and mail-in voting.
His criticism of mail voting focused on efforts by some states to mail ballots to all registered voters. The Trump campaign is suing to block such a law passed by Nevada’s Democratic-led Legislature in July.
But his attack also hit states like Arizona, which allows anyone to request and receive a mail-in ballot. In the August primary, about 90 percent of Arizona voters cast ballots by mail or at early voting centers.
Barr laid out the traditional American voting method that he said was at risk — one filled with checks and balances and the historic secret ballot.
Americans go to a polling place, identify themselves, go into a private voting booth and mark a ballot.
“Those measures have been developed over the years precisely because of concerns of fraud and coercion,” Barr said.
“And you can’t sell your vote, no one can intimidate you, no one can buy your vote. And it reduces radically the risk of fraud when you have a secret ballot that’s organized the way we’ve had it organized.”
Barr said voting by mail eliminates all those protections.
“There’s no more secret vote, there’s no secret vote,” he said in a dystopian warning.
“Your name is associated with a particular ballot. The government and the people involved can find out and know how you voted. And it opens up the door to coercion.”
He went on to say voters could be coerced into casting their vote a certain way if they get mail ballots, and said there might be situations in which nursing home residents are persuaded to let others fill out their ballots for them.
“And finally the fact that ballots are mailed out profligately the way they would be, many of them misdirected we know because of inaccuracy of voting lists, there are going to be ballots floating around and collected,” he said.
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