Kayleigh McEnany’s Story Of Trashed Trump Ballots Full Of Holes, Contradictions
A series of statements by President Donald Trump and his representatives on Thursday about military ballots found in Pennsylvania seem full of contradictions and holes. It’s not clear why Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the president were allowed to give out information on an ongoing investigation, but some of their information is directly contradicted by official sources, and other data is still lacking.
In a press conference Thursday, Kayleigh McEnany said that despite comments from FBI Director Christopher Wray, the president still considers mailed ballots to be a security issue. As evidence, she cited ballots found in a ditch in Greenville, Wisconsin, and ballots marked for Donald Trump, then discarded, in Pennsylvania.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) September 24, 2020
Sharing the clip from her press conference later, she added that all nine ballots that had been found were for Donald Trump. She linked a page at the Department of Justice for evidence. According to American Military News Trump also claimed additional ballots were found floating in a river.
However, at this point, the story was already full of holes.
First, McEnany’s link went to a dead page, that at the time said it had last been updated in November of 2018.
A later release from the Justice Department clarified some information, but also contradicted McEnany and Trump’s claims: seven ballots were marked for Trump; two were sealed and thus it was unknown whether they were for Trump.
Second, the Justice Department said nothing about any ballots floating in a river — only the nine discarded and reclaimed ones.
Then, there’s the timing. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, absentee ballots are sent in Pennsylvania 45-50 days before election day. The reclaimed ballots are being reported as military ballots, which must be sent to voters by 45 days before election day. With 40 days to go until the election currently, these ballots were likely sent out to voters only within the past ten days or so. It isn’t clear whether the claim is that these ballots were sent to deployed military personnel, and had already made it out of the country and back, before being discarded, or if they’re alleged to have been sent to a military base in Pennsylvania and discarded — perhaps by someone collecting them under the pretense of returning them to a voting site. Regardless, they’ve had quite a short time to make it to voters, be filled out, returned, lost or discarded, then found, and an investigation initiated.
In fact, there are a lot of tweets responding to McEnany and the Department of Justice expressing skepticism, and saying that ballots haven’t been received yet.
Ballots from what state? We haven't had ours delivered in PA yet. The PA Supreme Court only just resolved the final challenge to the ballot.
— Philly 🇺🇸 Englishman 🇬🇧 (@CakeNDeath) September 24, 2020
PA hasn’t even mailed out ballots for the general election they don’t go out until end of this month beginning of October you people are really bad at this. It was NINE ballots and may have been invalid PRIMARY ballots
— Cory morrocco (@Corymorrocco) September 24, 2020
This is disgusting, I know NO ONe who has gotten a mail in ballot yet.
— Barbara Hoffmann (@sophiesmother95) September 24, 2020
In fact, as of September 13th — 51 days before the election and the day before the earliest Pennsylvania law allows ballots to be sent, the state did not have ballots ready, according to WPXI, due to lawsuits brought regarding exactly who would appear on the ballots. Elections officials said they were concerned because preparing ballots is a timely process, and could take until the end of September before ballots were ready.
It’s not clear, if Pennsylvania voters haven’t yet received their ballots, where these came from. No one has affirmed that they are Pennsylvania ballots, or that they are for the general election, rather than the primary, in June.
Furthermore, in Pennsylvania, as reported by Forbes earlier this month, ballots arriving without the secrecy sleeve, which must be placed around the ballot before being placed in the envelope, must be discarded uncounted. This was a provision the Trump Administration fought for, and won. This means that if these ballots had arrived, and the candidate selected had been visible, they’d be discarded, no matter who that candidate was, by law and specifically by law argued for by Trump’s own people. If these are indeed ballots cast for the general election in Pennsylvania, they may have been properly thrown out for failing to meet requirements.
Finally, there’s the most concerning hole in the Trump Administration’s narrative about these nine ballots. Why are they commenting publicly (not to mention inaccurately) on an ongoing investigation? Should Trump and McEnany be sharing information with the public about these discarded ballots, before Federal law enforcement has had an opportunity to ensure that release of information won’t impede their investigation? To release information claiming (falsely) that all nine ballots are identified as Trump ballots, before an investigation is completed, seems somewhat partisan.