Video of then-businessman Donald Trump struggling to vote in-person before declaring he would fill out an absentee ballot in 2004 has resurfaced this week amid a new round of unfounded attacks on mail-in voting from the President.
The “Access Hollywood” segment, filmed as Trump was attempting to vote in the 2004 election, shows Trump alongside TV host Billy Bush visiting multiple New York City polling locations. Trump, however, is blocked from voting at each location because he is not on any of the voter rolls at each stop.
Trump can be seen becoming increasingly frustrated before declaring, “I’m going to fill out the absentee ballot.”
The segment ends with Trump filling out what Bush describes as a provisional ballot in his car.
“I just voted,” Trump touted. “At least you can say the Trumpster doesn’t give up.”
The 16-year-old video has circulated on social media and gained new attention in the wake of the President’s continued attacks on mail-in voting.
Those attacks, which often take a partisan tinge as the President has said he believes his party would be hurt by mail-in voting, escalated on Thursday to the point that Trump floated delaying the election – something he cannot legally do.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
During a news conference later in the day, Trump was asked to explain his motivations. At first, he suggested he was trying to avoid a drawn-out counting process that might stretch for days or weeks if large numbers of voters cast ballots by mail. But he eventually acknowledged his allegations could sow doubts about whatever outcome emerges in November.
“What people are now looking at is … are all these stories right about the fact that these elections will be fraudulent, they’ll be fixed, rigged,” he said.
“Everyone is looking at it,” Trump added. “A lot of people are saying that probably will happen.”
In reality, there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud. While rare instances of voter fraud from mail-in ballots do occur, it is nowhere near a widespread problem in the US election system. The most recent example of fraud from mail-in ballots took place in the 2018 midterm elections in a race where a GOP activist in North Carolina was accused of multiple felonies in connection to questionable absentee ballot activity in a congressional race on behalf of the Republican candidate.
Mail ballot fraud is exceedingly rare in part because states have systems and processes in place to prevent forgery, theft and voter fraud. These systems would apply to both absentee ballots and mail-in ballots for in-state voters.
Additionally, the President’s distinction between mail-in voting and absentee voting has baffled experts who say those voting systems are essentially the same thing.
“No-excuse mail voting or absentee voting – whatever you call it – is essentially the same thing,” David Becker, founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, previously told CNN. “You request a ballot, you get a ballot, you vote, you send it in, and there are protections in place. It doesn’t matter whether you call it mail voting or absentee voting. It’s the same thing.”
CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Tara Subramaniam, Holmes Lybrand, Kevin Liptak and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.