As President Donald Trump tries to discredit the results of the election by raising false claims about voter fraud, some of the president’s loyalists are latching onto an unsubstantiated and illogical new conspiracy theory — promoted by right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe — that the U.S. Postal Service is deliberately mislabeling mail-in ballots.
This week, O’Keefe tweeted out a series of edited, vague and unsubstantiated interviews with supposed “whistleblowers” from post offices in Michigan and Pennsylvania, who tried to claim USPS is stamping fraudulent Nov. 3 postmarks onto ballots picked up after Election Day in those states.
O’Keefe’s videos have earned thousands of retweets, and Trump’s allies and defenders have treated them as smoking guns for institutional voter fraud.
Rush Limbaugh implied to millions of talk-radio listeners that the videos suggest Joe Biden’s leads in Pennsylvania and Michigan could be fraudulent, and former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch interviewed O’Keefe on her podcast.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany proclaimed “FRAUD” on Twitter in promoting O’Keefe’s works, and the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., suggested the U.S. Department of Justice should look into the matter.
Nearly all of these allegations are either specious or outright nonsensical: Michigan does not accept any ballots delivered after Election Day regardless of when they were mailed, so backdating their postmarks to Nov. 3 would not accomplish anything, PolitiFact noted.
O’Keefe’s Pennsylvania source offered no direct proof aside from a brief conversation he says he overheard, and although Pennsylvania is accepting mail-in ballots with a Nov. 3 postmark until Friday per a court order, election officials are keeping those ballots separate from the overwhelming majority of votes that arrived before Election Day.
USPS told Forbes it has referred the videos to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Office of Inspector General.
O’Keefe is the founder of Project Veritas, a conservative organization known for using deceptively edited undercover videos to accuse prominent journalists and left-wing politicians of misconduct. He and his staffers have repeatedly been caught trying to bait their subjects into saying outrageous things, and the vast majority of his hidden-camera stunts have later turned out to be exaggerated.
As President Donald Trump’s path to reelection narrows, he and his campaign have pivoted to denying the election’s results by raising inaccurate voter fraud claims. Trump is convinced that mail-in votes are often fraudulent and normal vote-counting procedures are actually sinister efforts to rig the election against him, despite ample evidence to the contrary.