Don’t Buy Trump’s Conspiracy Theories About Ballots Being Dumped in Rivers
Near the tail end of last week’s chaotic debate, President Donald Trump once again raised the specter of widespread election malfeasance.
This has become somewhat routine for Trump, who warned throughout the spring and summer that expanded mail-in voting—an arrangement made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic—would become a tool for fraudsters. Lately, however, he’s turned to suggesting not only that the absentee ballots are vulnerable to fraud but that election officials running the system are part of the supposed scheme. That was the point that Trump drove at on Tuesday night.
“Take a look at West Virginia. Mailmen selling the ballots,” he said. “They are being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country.”
Factually, the president was conflating and exaggerating two different events. In West Virginia, a mailman was convicted earlier this year of altering a handful of absentee ballot applications. Here’s the rub: He was caught changing them from Democrat to Republican.
The claim that ballots were found “in rivers”—later Trump also talked about ballots being dumped “in a ditch”—is a little more difficult to nail down. When asked about it on Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to provide additional information to support the president’s claim. There were three trays of mail found in a ditch in rural Wisconsin last week, which may be what Trump was alluding to. But Wisconsin election officials told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that no absentee ballots were found there.
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