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Fact check: Trump says he can use executive authority on mail voting. Can he?

The president made a number of false statements in talking about balloting plans for the November election.
President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act in the East Room of the White House on Aug. 4, 2020.
President Trump at a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act in the East Room on Tuesday.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

President Donald Trump suggested he could use an executive order to regulate mail voting in some way, amid falsehood-riddled remarks about the use of mail ballots this year.

"I have the right to do it," Trump said Monday when asked if he would use an executive order to address state expansions of mail balloting. "We haven't gotten there, but we'll see what happens."

That's not true: Elections are administered by the states, with oversight from Congress.

"The president is a bystander in this process," said Marc Elias, a top Democratic elections attorney.

Congress can pass laws that sets certain rules for election — like the federal law that people must be able to register to vote at all state motor vehicle agencies — but the president has no authority to change them. In July, he suggested the date of the election be changed because of the pandemic; he doesn't have the authority to do that either.

"He can try to do it. It's going to get shot down in court," Vanita Gupta said on MSNBC's "The ReidOut" on Monday.

Gupta was head of the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, which oversees voting issues, during the Obama administration. "This is just about him trying to set up a situation to sow seeds of confusion and fear so that if he loses in November he can try to delegitimatize a completely valid election," Gupta added.

In his press briefing, Trump made a slew of incorrect claims about a law the Nevada Legislature recently passed bill to make mail voting easier for some people.

"Now you're talking about, like, Nevada, where last — two nights ago, they — they went out and in the darkness of night without people, without having any meetings of the public, without having anything, they approved a ridiculous — you don't have to look at signatures. You don't have to approve anything," Trump claimed.

This is false: Nevada's governor signed a law on Monday morning to change the state's mail voting regulations — after Senate and Assembly hearings and public comment periods by phone, The Nevada Independent reported.

Nevada will now send all active voters a ballot in the mail, and allow nonfamily members to transport voters' sealed ballots back to election officials. Voter signatures are still verified, despite Trump's claim, to authenticate the ballots and prevent fraud.

Pressed on Trump's claims, White House spokesperson Sarah Matthews said that "all Americans deserve an election system that is secure, and President Trump is highlighting that Democrats' plan for universal mail-in voting would lead to fraud."

The only states conducting all-mail elections this year are the ones that have done so in the past, like Utah and Washington, and voter fraud is extremely rare there. What's more, Democrats have advocated a mix of expanded access to absentee voting as well as in-person polling — not all-mail elections nationwide.