Manhattan is a big city. There are numerous places to buy suits and jewelry, get a men’s shave or grab a slice of pizza. As Donald Trump learned in 2004, it’s also a tough place to find your polling place. Recently-resurfaced video of Trump and TV host Billy Bush looking for a polling place to cast their ballots in the 2004 election bear this out.
In the video, Trump arrives at several polling places around Manhattan, looking for the one where he is to cast his ballot. However, at three distinct polling places, the reality TV star is turned away and told that he isn’t on the voter rolls there. Finally, Trump and Bush climb into the limousine and Trump, exasperated, fills out an absentee ballot. Holding it up to the camera and laughing, Trump says “There, I voted, it’s that easy.”
Video Undercuts Trump’s 2020 Claims
Trump’s mail-in vote sixteen years ago isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. People send in absentee ballots for a number of reasons, and it’s a perfectly legal and valid way to cast your vote. However, as president, the former real estate mogul has made much ado about the dangers of mail-in ballots.
In an ongoing Twitter screed, Trump has painted mail-in voting as rife with fraud and easy to corrupt. However, research has shown that mail-in voting is no more or less prone to fraud than physical polling places. This hasn’t stopped the president from repeating the claims ad nauseam, however.
Trump’s own habit of voting absentee hasn’t stopped his assertions that mail-in voting is bad, either. Along with the 2004 ballot, Trump mailed in his vote in 2018 and in 2017. Trump has tried to draw a distinction between “absentee voting” and “mail-in voting,” though in reality, those are just two terms for the same process.
Why Focus on Mail-in Voting?
Trump has made numerous unfounded claims that mail-in voting disproportionately helps Democrats. However, research has shown that mail-in voting has no particular party bias. However, Trump may be inadvertently seeding such a bias.
The president’s own supporters may be less likely to cast absentee ballots due to Trump’s own rhetoric. His reelection campaign has expressed trepidation about this, noting that many likely Trump voters might simply stay home amidst the pandemic. Their fear of mail-in voting and their fear of contracting COVID might both keep them from voting for the incumbent. This, in turn, could inadvertently create the Democratic bias Trump is so afraid of.