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[Commentary] Trump Advisor Pretends Joe Biden’s In-Person Vote Is Somehow Scandalous

[Commentary] Trump Advisor Pretends Joe Biden’s In-Person Vote Is Somehow Scandalous

Joe Biden votes in person

Jason Miller, a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and a spokesperson for Donald Trump, took a moment on Twitter Monday morning to pretend that it was somehow shocking and scandalous that Vice President Joe Biden submitted a vote in person. Miller continued to tweet attacks on mail-in voting — though the Trump campaign has embraced the idea and is encouraging Republicans to mail in their votes.

Joe Biden votes in person
WILMINGTON, DE – SEPTEMBER 14: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and wife Dr. Jill Biden depart the Delaware State Building after early voting in the state’s primary election on September 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden has scheduled campaign stops in Florida, Pennsylvania and Minnesota later this week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s campaign has been sending mixed messages on voting by mail for a while. Even as Trump has railed against the idea and claimed it would cause fraud, his campaign has used robocalls, mailed fliers, and other messaging to encourage his supporters to mail a ballot. He’s even told supporters to mail in a ballot, then show up at the polls to vote again if they think their vote wasn’t counted (a felony).

Meanwhile, his campaign advisor, Jason Miller, seems to think it’s somehow wow-worthy for Joe Biden to vote in person — in a primary in his home state of Delaware, where he had to make an appointment to cast his ballot, which sounds a lot like social distancing and cautious behavior.

By contrast, voters in some districts stand in line for hours waiting to vote. To cite one example this year, voters in DC participating in a June primary describe standing in line until 1 a.m. to cast their ballots, as reported by WJLA. That’s a lot of exposure if a voter also happens to have delicate health. Even without COVID-19 as a factor, not every voter has the physical health to participate that way, and those voters absolutely still have the right as American citizens to participate in the Democratic process.

Also in contrast to Joe Biden’s vote by appointment, not all polling places can provide the space for physical social distancing during this wait. The photo below is at a polling place in Texas in 2008, where polls had to be kept open two hours past the 7 p.m. official close time, because of crowds waiting to vote. For smaller locations, setting up sufficient social distancing may not be feasible.

Joe Biden voted by appointment
DESOTO, TX – MARCH 4: Voters sign a delegate sign up sheet while caucus voting continues at about 10:30 pm at the DeSoto ISD Dalton L. James Instructional Support Center building March 4, 2008 in DeSoto, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. The polls were supposed to close at 7:00 pm but were kept open due to the volume of people waiting to vote. One voter reported waiting three to four hours to vote. The line for voting at the middle school ended just after 9:00 p.m. (Photo by Brian Harkin/Getty Images)

While Biden is fortunate to live in a state and district that has good options for in-person voting with social distancing, American citizens whose districts struggle to provide that also have the Constitutional right to cast their vote.

Miller also posted an opinion piece from the Detroit News, asserting that the infrastructure to handle a massive mail-in vote isn’t ready.

Michigan is an unsurprising focus for a Trump advisor to discourage mailed ballots. Trump lied about Michigan’s mail-in voting options, claiming that unsolicited ballots were being sent out across the state. In fact, what voters across the state received were request forms, allowing citizens to request an absentee ballot if desired. Michigan is one of the major battleground states Trump is paying special attention to, and FiveThirtyEight currently has Biden leading by 7.4 points.

What’s the reasoning that supports the Trump campaign claiming that mailed ballots are unsafe, but also that Joe Biden voting in person is scandalous?

It’s not at all hypocritical for Joe Biden, or anyone, to support mail-in voting as an available option to every citizen who feels unsafe voting in person, while still voting in person himself if conditions seem safe to do so. There’s nothing to call out here.

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