Postal Updates

Mail-in voting receives poor reception from attendees at conference near Washington, D.C.

Mar 7, 2024, 8 AM
Ron Vitiello, who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, D.C., in late February, is supportive of mail-in voting. Vitiello is running for the United States Senate from Virginia. Photo by Allen Abel.

Delivering the Mail by Allen Abel

Supporters of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States who is seeking to become the 47th, gathered Feb. 21-24 for an annual conclave at a Maryland hotel just south of Washington, D.C.

The lively and colorful gathering is known officially as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Many of the attendees were dressed in red, white and blue.

According to various reports, reporters from the Washington Post, HuffPost and other media outlets were denied credentials by the conference’s organizers.

A Linn’s reporter was on hand to question attendees about an issue that once again is about to roil an American election season: mail-in voting.

“If you have mail-in voting, you automatically have fraud,” Trump told Laura Ingraham on FOX News on Feb. 20, one day before the CPAC conference opened. “If you have it, you’re going to have fraud.”

“Well, there is mail-in voting in Florida and you won huge,” Ingraham said.

In 2020, Trump tweeted, “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure ... so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!”

Trump did vote for himself by mail in Florida.

“YOU CAN NEVER HAVE FAIR & FREE ELECTIONS WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS,” Trump exclaimed on his Truth Social online platform in 2022.

At CPAC, most Trump supporters Linn’s interviewed were unequivocal and vocal.

“Would you mail a thousand dollars to yourself? Of course not,” said Jason Jisa, a former all-American college basketball star from Seward, Neb., who attended the conference as a vendor of Trump-branded hats, shirts and other accoutrements.

“I want to guarantee my vote,” Jisa said. “I want to know the chain of custody. The right to vote is sacred. A lot of people have given their blood for that right. How can you be sure that a mail-in vote is secure?”

Linn’s also spoke to Tom McDonough, who represented Project 2025, an initiative of the Heritage Foundation that is preparing “properly vetted and trained personnel” to assume high-level government positions in “the next conservative administration,” according to the Project 2025 website.

“You sign [the ballot], you send it back, there’s no due diligence,” McDonough asserted.

According to McDonough, he received two ballots at his home in 2022 that were addressed to persons who no longer resided there.

“I am so against mail-in voting,” McDonough said. “It used to be that you had to request a ballot, and you gave your reason and if it was a valid reason, they sent you one. Now they send them to everyone. Plus, they have voting extended over so many days and that doesn’t make sense, either. I live by my principles and I show up [to vote].”

[Editor’s note: Currently eight states — California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington — send a ballot in the mail to every registered voter, a system  sometimes called universal vote-by-mail.]

With Trump ardently opposed to mail-in voting (at least for the moment), finding an alternate opinion at CPAC was not easy. But at least one man with skin in the political game, Tom Vitiello, has studied the mathematics of mail-in voting, which has favored Democratic candidates in recent contests.

(According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, in the 2022 election for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman received 960,405 mail-in votes, compared to 234,371 for Republican Mehmet Oz. The Election Data and Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that 59 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans voted by mail in the pandemic year of 2020.)

“Where I live in Fairfax County, they have a very tight system and it is very tightly controlled,” Vitiello told Linn’s. Vitiello is a former national chief of the U.S. Border Patrol and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Virginia.

“It is a question for the state government, and although we have a Republican governor, the Virginia legislature is controlled by the Democrats and they are not going to relinquish an advantage that they have,” Vitiello said.

“We have to take part in mail-in voting,” Vitiello said. “It is not in our interest as Republicans to cede the ground. Why would we tie our hands?”

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