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Trump Claims Authority to Issue Executive Order on Mail-in Ballots

President Donald Trump speaks while participating in an executive order signing event in Washington, D.C., August 3, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump on Monday claimed he has the authority to issue an executive order addressing the widespread use of mail-in ballots, which he has argued serves as a breeding ground for voter fraud and puts the integrity of the presidential election at risk.

“I have the right to do it,” Trump said during a news briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the White House. “We haven’t got there yet, but we’ll see what happens.”

Trump did not expand on what an executive order addressing voting by mail would involve. A presidential order attempting to curb voting by mail would likely face legal challenges from voting rights groups.

Democrats have pushed for voting by mail to protect voters from having to leave their homes to vote, possibly exposing themselves to the coronavirus. More than a dozen states either delayed their primary elections or expanded voting by mail as the pandemic continued.

In June, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill requiring that a mail-in ballot be sent to every registered voter in the state for the presidential election in November. State law requires that in-person voting remain available.

Mail ballots have resulted in several recent instances of fraud, including the coercion of elderly voters in Texas and a ballot-harvesting scheme in North Carolina during the 2018 midterms that caused GOP congressional candidate Mark Harris’s victory to be voided. In California, cases have cropped up in which dozens of ballots were sent to the same person, or a ballot was sent to an undocumented immigrant who had never registered to vote.

Trump also pledged Monday to sue over Nevada’s attempt to send mail-in ballots to all active voters.

Spurred by coronavirus concerns, at least 42 states as well as the District of Columbia will allow voters to vote using absentee ballots without an excuse.

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