Chuck Todd Interviews Trevor Potter on Mail-In Voting on MTP Daily
On July 31, 2020, Trevor Potter -- a member of Caplin & Drysdale’s Political Law Group in Washington, D.C. -- spoke with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Daily concerning mail-in voting. Below is a transcript from the interview, and please visit this link, then click and scroll to minute 17:32 to view the interview.
TODD: In a moment we are going to address some of the legitimate issues facing election that could be conducted predominantly by mail. But first let`s dive into the president`s efforts to sow doubts about the legitimacy of this election. With me now is Trevor Potter, he is the former chairman of the federal election commission, former general council to John McCain`s presidential campaign.
And he`s now president of the non-partisan campaign legal center. And I have a feeling he`s going to be very busy as these campaigns sue each other and we look for expertise to figure out what the heck is going on.
Trevor, it is good to see you. Let me start with, you know, there has been a lot of the president`s allies are cherry picking some stats here to try to create even more doubt about mail-in voting. Let me play you something that the press secretary said. And I`d like you to sort of debunk the myth. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Always a mail-in ballot system, mass mail out ballots are going to be more at risk at fraud. Look at L.A. County where 112 percent of L.A. County is registered.
That means you have 12 percent of excess ballots floating around that are, we know, at least 12 percent that are not accurate ballots that were mailed out. This is a very basic concept and it is one that the media has done a very good job reporting on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So, 112 percent of ballots get mailed out. To me it sounds like a lot of people move in and out of L.A. How much of it is that? How normal is something like this?
TREVOR POTTER, PRESIDENT, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER: Well, it is -- you`re absolutely right. What the press secretary is saying is that you have people who moved, you have people who died and when people move they tend not to go and stop on their way out of town and tell the voter register that they`re leaving. They register in their new place and it takes a while for it to catch up. But that has nothing to do with whether there is going to be fraud in the election.
Because what happens is, in Los Angeles, which is one of the few states that mails every registered voter a ballot automatically, when that happens, if it`s non-deliverable, it is returned to the election office. If it is delivered, let`s say to the apartment of the next tenant gets it, it doesn`t matter because only the registered voter can actually vote that absentee ballot. They have to provide identification when they`re voting that ballot, they`re signature, on the envelope, sometimes a social security number. The ballots are often barcoded by the state so they know who it is supposed to be from.
And when it comes back, then the state looks at it to make sure that the signature matches the one on the file and the registered voter is still registered. So having excess ballots, quote, floating around is what happens in every state in the sense that not everybody is still there and so those ballots aren`t voted. And if for some reason they get grabbed out of a mailbox and somebody tries to vote them, then they are stopped when the signature is compared and the state reaches out to say to the real voter, did you vote this.
TODD: Let`s take a look at the state of Oregon. They have been all mail basically since I think really, they started this in 1995 and it really sort of took off around left. I mean, the instances of voter fraud in Oregon are what, they are very minuscule. What safeguards do they have that have made that system, and I think it is been duplicated around, what has made that system work in your mind.
POTTER: There are now five states that do all -- basically all mail-in which is their primary way of voting. People register, they receive the ballot in the mail at home, they fill it out, as I`ve said, they put a signature on it, the state -- they then return it to the state and Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, a very red state, are the four that have been doing it, Hawaii has just shifted to mail.
And in those places, they`re ballot is received by the election officials and it is compared to the records before it is accepted. They have the option, interestingly, of not putting it back in the mail. They can drop it off in lock boxes or at government offices, slots in the outside of government buildings. And a number of people do that. So they have a very efficient system.
Colorado has a way that online you can track your ballot and see that it has been received and see that it has been accepted by the government. So you talk to people in those states, election officials, secretaries of state of both parties and they say this is a great way of voting and very secure.
TODD: Right. I love the idea of tracking your ballot. I mean, that is fantastic. Let`s just -- look, last question for you simply this. Absentee balloting, absentee voting versus mail-in voting. The president insists there is a difference. Other than a request versus getting it automatically in the mail, do you see a difference?
POTTER: First, I don`t. Both of them use the mail to deliver the ballots. But I think the interesting thing here is the president is now saying he`s fine with absentee balloting, it is universal mail-in -- mail voting that he objects to. So, almost the entire country this year will have absentee voting, not the universal voting he`s objecting to.
POTTER: California is the only state that is going to send an actual ballot to every registered voter, and by the way only to registered voters, with this security procedures we`re talking about. Every other state is going to do the absentee that the president said is OK. They`re going to give voters the option of voting absentee, some of them are going to send them applications for absentee ballots. But nobody is going to be sending out what the president calls universal mail voting to everyone in the state.
California will do it only to registered voting, everyone else is going to do it the way the president said he likes, which is an absentee ballot that people ask for and then receive at home and on the record there is that those are exceedingly secure and carefully checked by the states when they come in.
TODD: I know. Trevor Potter, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your expertise in this. I`ll tell you, I have a theory of why the president has it in his head that mail-in balloting is bad and it goes to the state of Florida. He won Election Day voters by 10 points, he lost voters who voted before Election Day by ten points and he can`t seem to shake that stat out of his head. Sometimes I think the simplest explanations apply there but we shall see. Trevor Potter, sir, I really appreciate you coming on. I have a feeling you will be busy this fall.