AP Fact Check: Attorney General William Barr likens mail-in voting to 'playing with fire', warns against voter fraud

The Attorney General also suggested that China poses more of a threat to election security than Russia, even though that was not the conclusion of an official intelligence assessment last month

The Associated Press September 03, 2020 10:35:48 IST
AP Fact Check: Attorney General William Barr likens mail-in voting to 'playing with fire', warns against voter fraud

US Attorney General William Barr during a roundtable discussion on community safety, at Mary D. Bradford High School in in Kenosha, Wisconsin on September 1, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Washinton: As the 2020 presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden heats up, Attorney General William Barr warned of the potential of substantial fraud in voting by mail — but he omitted necessary context, and states that rely on the process say there is little evidence of such activity.

He also suggested that China poses more of a threat to election security than Russia, even though that was not the conclusion of an official intelligence assessment last month.

Here's a look at the claims, made in a Wednesday evening interview with CNN:

Barr on fraud in the vote-by-mail process:

“Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion.”

THE FACTS: Multiple studies have debunked the notion of pervasive voter fraud in general and in the vote-by-mail process.

The five states that relied on mail-in ballots even before the coronavirus pandemic — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah — have said they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure against fraud and to prevent hostile foreign actors from co-opting the vote. More states intend to rely more heavily on mail-in voting this fall because of the pandemic.

The attorney general cited a report from more than a decade ago from a commission led by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker that said vote-by-mail was vulnerable to fraud. But the commission pointed out in a statement in May that it had found little evidence of fraud in states like Oregon that had sufficient safeguards.

Barr also said he was based on “logic” his concern that a hostile foreign actor could produce bogus ballots for the election. But senior US officials said on a conference call with reporters last week that they had no intelligence to suggest that was happening.

Barr on Russian, China, Iran interference:

Barr, on the question of whether Russia, China, or Iran, has been most assertive in interfering in the election: “I believe it's China.”

THE FACTS: Barr’s assessment does not line up with last month's formal statement from the government's counterintelligence chief, William Evanina.

The statement directly implicated Russia in 2020 election interference by saying it was actively working to denigrate Biden. Its characterisation of China’s activities was considerably more nebulous, however, saying it regards Trump as unpredictable and prefers that he not win.

The statement said intelligence officials believed China has been expanding “its influence efforts” to shape the policy environment ahead of the November election and will continue to weigh the risks and benefits of aggressive action. But they did not specifically place China as a more serious threat or allege that Beijing was directly interfering in the election.

Barr said he had reviewed intelligence to inform his assessment on China, which lines up with recent comments from national intelligence director John Ratcliffe and is in keeping with the Trump administration's position that Beijing presents significant national security concerns for the US, particularly when it comes to espionage and the theft of intellectual property from American universities and businesses.

Updated Date:

also read

Armin Laschet wins race to lead Angela Merkel's Centre-Right Bloc in German election
World

Armin Laschet wins race to lead Angela Merkel's Centre-Right Bloc in German election

Laschet, the leader of the Christian Democrat, now faces a big battle ahead of the 26 September parliamentary election — to connect with voters and win over fellow conservatives who backed his more popular rival, Markus Soeder

ED summons Mehbooba Mufti's mother Gulshan Nazir in money laundering case; PDP terms it political vendetta
India

ED summons Mehbooba Mufti's mother Gulshan Nazir in money laundering case; PDP terms it political vendetta

The ED wants to question Nazir in her seventies over a few lakh of rupees that were allegedly transferred to her account from the chief minister's discretionary fund

Law prohibiting gender confirming treatment creates confusion, pain for Arkansas' trans youth
World

Law prohibiting gender confirming treatment creates confusion, pain for Arkansas' trans youth

The measure prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 or referring them to other doctors who provide that care.