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Amid criticism over mail-in voting, Trump requests absentee ballot

The request allows Trump and the first lady to vote remotely as Palm Beach County, Florida, residents.
President Donald J. Trump
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk from the Oval Office to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House on Jan 31, 2020.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

President Donald Trump, whose campaign has tried to thwart mail-in voting, has requested an absentee ballot that will allow him to cast a Florida primary ballot via the U.S. Postal Service.

The request to vote remotely as a Palm Beach County, Florida, resident was confirmed Thursday night by White House Deputy Press Secretary, Judd Deere.

"The President supports absentee voting, not universal mail-in voting, which contain several safeguards that prevent fraud and abuse," Deere said by email.

The story of Trump's absentee request, as well as that of first lady Melania Trump, was first reported by the Palm Beach Post on Thursday.

It would be the second time Trump and the first lady have requested to vote by mail as residents of Florida, where they call the Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago home.

The Trumps' request would allow them to vote in the Aug. 18 primary. The deadline to request absentee ballots was Saturday. The ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on the day of the election.

Palm Beach County started an early voting program Aug. 3 that allows voters to also use "secure" drop boxes.

The president has claimed that mail-in voting, used in the United States since the Civil War, invites fraud. There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States, according to numerous investigations and studies.

Trump has so far resisted congressional Democrats' efforts to add billions of dollars to U.S. Postal Service budget to help fund the extra work needed to process more voting by mail as a result of the pandemic.

But on Thursday, the president suggested he would not veto such funding if it were part of the next coronavirus relief package, saying of the Democrats, “All they have to do is make a deal."

He also said of mail-in voting, "Absentee good, universal mail-in very bad."

Some states, like California, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, don't make a distinction between being an absentee voter who's away from home and a voter who simply prefers the mail; anyone can request a mail-in ballot.