Trump imagines roving bands of child ballot thieves

Trump's question was probably rhetorical, but just in case, no, I don't think California has roving bands of ballot-stealing children.
Image: A poll worker places a mail in ballot into a voting box as voters drop off their ballot in the U.S. presidential primary election in San Diego, California
A poll worker places a mail in ballot into a voting box as voters drop off their ballot in the U.S. presidential primary election in San Diego, California, United States June 7, 2016.Mike Blake / Reuters
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By Steve Benen

At a White House event on Tuesday, Donald Trump claimed that election officials in California are sending ballots to everyone in the state who's "walking or breathing," including "many" people who "don't have the right to vote." The president was, of course, lying: California is sending out ballots to allow people to vote by mail, but only registered voters are eligible.

Yesterday, Trump nevertheless repeated the lie, falsely claiming, "Anybody in California that's breathing, gets a ballot." A reporter patiently tried to explain reality to the president, reminding him that only registered voters are receiving ballots from the state.

I wasn't surprised by the Republican's incredulity, but I was amazed by the details of his response.

"Oh, really? So when [California Gov. Gavin Newsom] sends out 28 million ballots and they're in all the mailboxes, and kids go and they raid the mailboxes, and they hand them to people that are signing the ballots down the end of the street, which is happening -- they grab the ballots -- you don't think that happens?"

It may have been a rhetorical question, but just in case, no, I don't think California has roving bands of child ballot thieves.

According to the official transcript, Trump nevertheless added, "But you don't think they rip them out of mailboxes? It's all the time, you read about it. You could read about it. Take a look."

I try to be open minded about such things, and if the White House has evidence of ballot-stealing children, traveling from mailbox to mailbox, "raiding" their contents, and handing off ballots as part of an elaborate electoral scheme, I will gladly update this post. I'll also apologize for laughing while writing this post.

But in the meantime, I'm comfortable describing this as among the more crazypants theories Trump has peddled to the public recently.