Just after midnight on Sunday, President Trump retweeted a Brietbart story that included a video from Project Veritas, claiming it found Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is connected to illegal ballot harvesting in Minnesota. The video showed a man named Liban Mohamed talking about the hundreds of ballots he'd collected.
However, in Minnesota ballot harvesting is legal. In August, a district court blocked a Republican effort to end the practice, claiming that more voters having the opportunity to vote did not present a basis for harm.
The video also claims that there was a scheme to pay voters for their ballots. The video included an anonymous source claiming voters were paid during the August primary, however there was no further evidence to back that claim. And a spokesperson for Omar told Newsweek that Mohamed does not work for the campaign.
Project Veritas is known to put out content targeting liberal causes and candidates. In 2010, for example, founder James O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for unlawfully entering federal property during a "sting" against then-Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The release came hours after The New York Times published its investigation into Trump's tax records, which showed he paid no income taxes in 10 of the 15 years before 2016.
"And if foreign countries want to, this is an easy system to break into because they'll do counterfeit ballots. They'll do counterfeit ballots by the millions. So when you talk about China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, all the countries you talk about, that's peanuts — that's all peanuts compared to this. But this is their opening, because they can use nice, cheap ballots, and they can send them out, counterfeit them, and just send them in. This is a disaster, and they should stop it before it's too late." — President Trump speaking to a Sept. 23, 2020, press conference
On Wednesday, President Trump gave remarks to the press during a discussion with state attorneys general and said foreign countries could send counterfeit ballots to the United States. The president made similar claims in June when he tweeted, "RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!" U.S. Attorney General William Barr echoed Trump's claims about foreign interference earlier this month saying, "Foreign intelligence services are very able. They can counterfeit currency and they have a lot of capacity. And I don't think counterfeiting a state ballot is particularly challenging for them if they wanted to do it."
Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program for the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York School of Law, told USA Today, "forging mail ballots is not a serious threat." Norden explained that because local authorities collect returned ballots in secrecy envelopes, which in many states are bar-coded with unique identifiers to the voter, it would be impractical. Many states require voters to provide personal information like the last four digits of a voter's Social Security number or the voter's signature. A forged ballot would also require meeting the specifications to be read by the voting machines in that jurisdiction. "In other words, there are security measures in place that make the kind of scheme he's imagining impossible," Norden said. Also the ballots are printed on paper, making it easier to conduct a recount if necessary.
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"The Caucus concludes that the only way to be certain that no fraud has taken place is to reject all naked ballots." — The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Ruling, Page 48
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week that officials must throw out so-called "naked ballots" — mail-in ballots returned without the inner secrecy envelopes that separates voters' identities from how they vote. This is a change from how mail-in ballots have been counted in the past, including in this year's primary election, and could affect tens of thousands of general election ballots across the state.
Lisa Deeley, chairwoman of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, sent a letter to Republican legislators, whose party holds a majority in the Legislature, urging they eliminate the requirement for secrecy envelopes for mail-in votes to be counted. She wrote that the court ruling could "set Pennsylvania up to be the subject of significant post-election legal controversy, the likes of which we have not seen since Florida in 2000." Pennsylvania got rid of its requirement for an excuse to vote absentee last year, so this will be the first general election in which many residents likely will be voting by mail. President Trump narrowly won the battleground state in 2016 and former Vice President Joe Biden now holds a 9-point advantage among likely voters in the state, according to NBC/Marist poll conducted earlier this month.
The ruling also extended the deadline for mail ballots to be submitted to up to three days after the election and will allow voters to submit mail ballots through drop boxes. Top Republican legislators filed a stay request to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reverse the decision to extend the deadline and signaled they will be sending a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the legality of the extension.