Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Last month, President Donald Trump told us that voting by mail is rife with fraud, tweeting, “Mail in ballots substantially increases the risk of crime and VOTER FRAUD!” But then on Saturday, Trump slammed efforts to make in-person voting easier in advance of Tuesday’s special election for California’s 25th congressional district as a “SCAM!”, demanding that “These votes must not count.”
Does Trump support any type of voting? After all, if you rule out in person and by mail, what’s left?
To be fair, I’m sure Trump fully supports voting – if he believes the ballots will be cast for him. And that’s so much of what is at play here with Trump advocating positions that appear to be in complete contradiction of each other. Trump has decided that both mail in voting and the additional voting location opened for Tuesday’s special election are bad for Trump and his GOP. Hence, he opposes both.
Indeed, Trump told us as much. On April 8, Trump tweeted he opposes voting by mail since it “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
In reality, experts say that mail-in voting doesn’t actually help one party over the other.
As we’ve learned, though, it’s not Trump’s thing to listen to experts – especially since he claims to know more than anyone us else about a long list of topics from “technology” to Democrats to terrorism.
That explains Trump continuing to spew more baseless claims (or “lies” as I call them) that mail-in ballots are “corrupt” and “they’re forgeries in many cases.” As real experts have made clear, voter fraud with mail in ballots is “relatively rare” and Factcheck.org has dubbed Trump’s claims as “misinformation.” That takes us to Trump’s claim that adding a new voting location in Lancaster, California is somehow about trying to “rig” the hotly contested election to fill a Congressional seat left open by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Katie Hill.
In this case, Trump isn’t taking issue with the fact people in California’s 25th district – located in North LA and eastern Ventura County – can vote by mail if they so choose. After all, he even tweeted that this election was “supposed to be mail in ballots only” – perhaps because of reports that more GOP voters have mailed in their ballots to date than Democratic voters.
What apparently triggered Trump’s claim that Democrats “are trying to steal another election” was that Los Angeles County election officials recently added a new in-person voting location in the city of Lancaster – described by Trump as “the most Democrat area in the State.”
This presumably is why the president has demanded these ballots cast by Americans “must not count.”
This is a jaw-dropping statement. The idea that a President would call for votes not to be counted simply because they are cast in a polling location that he believes favors the opposition party should alarm all Americans who believe in our democratic republic. Also deeply disturbing is that Trump is opposing making it easier for those in one of the most racially diverse cities in the district – Lancaster’s population is nearly 22% African American – to cast their ballot.
Especially ironic: With the nearest in-person voting center nine miles away, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris had joined Democrats in pushing for this voting precinct to be opened up to in-person voting. Parris, a Republican who is supporting GOP candidate Mike Garcia over Democrat Christy Smith, last week called for the county election officials to “immediately” open a polling location in the city, noting that “There should not be even the appearance of affecting the outcome by limiting the ability to vote.” The Mayor added, “I don’t want to ‘jimmy’ the election.” (Since the city has a Republican mayor it also undermines Trump’s tweeted claim that Lancaster is the “the most Democrat area in the State.”)
It’s telling that while Trump is outraged that a new voting location was set up in Lancaster, he doesn’t seem to have objected to the two voting locations set up in Ventura County, which backed the losing GOP congressional candidate against Democrat Hill in 2018. In fact, one of the Ventura County in-person voting locations for Tuesday’s election is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. We can only wonder how Trump would respond if voting was taking place in the “Barack Obama presidential library”!)
Between now and November 3, we can expect Trump to continue to claim our elections are “rigged,” a “scam” and worse – especially if he continues to trail expected Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the polls. (Trump made those same dangerously irresponsible claims in the months before the 2016 election.) It’s up to us to protect our nation from Trump by taking his attacks on our electoral process seriously. And even more importantly, voting on Election Day to end the reign of a man who is the greatest threat to our democracy since World War II.