Speed Reads


John Oliver lays out the pros of voting by mail, debunks the conservatives trying to stop it

John Oliver knows the biggest story from last week wasn't his main story on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "Due to the fact that we're producing remotely, we currently have to tape Saturday morning," he tweeted Sunday night. "That's never great, and this week, it's especially not-great." This week's main story, he said, touches on "how the president spent the first half of his week."

"For some reason, in the midst of 40 million Americans unemployed, 100,000 Americans dead, and racial tensions boiling over," Oliver said, President Trump declared war on Twitter because it fact-checked his "claim that voting by mail in this year's election will be 'substantially fraudulent,'" a claim Trump has tweeted about "a ridiculous number of times in the last two months, and he brings it up constantly." Trump's nonsensical vote-by-mail allegations are "actively harmful to the democratic process," he said, and this year, to public health as well.

If the COVID-19 pandemic "continues into the fall, as it almost certainly will," expanding vote-by-mail is a crucial mitigation tool to facilitate an essential right, Oliver said. "So tonight, let's take a look at why the option of voting by mail is so necessary, why concerns about it are often overblown, and why talking about it right now is actually really important."

"Fraud can happen in mail-in voting," but it's "incredibly rare," in part because despite what Fox News hosts will tell you, "it is a crime that's difficult, high-risk, and low-reward," Oliver explained. What conservatives really seem upset about is the expectation it will increase voting participation and their speculation "that any increased participation would benefit Democrats, despite the fact researchers have consistently found that it hasn't obviously helped one party or the other."

There is "actually one last thing that we may need to personally prepare ourselves for, and that is that in November, if there is, as seems likely, a surge in mail-in voting, it may take much, much longer for all the ballots to be counted," Oliver warned. "And in fact, we may not know who's won until a few days after Election Day. And if it doesn't look good for Donald Trump, look for him to use that to sow discord among his supporters." He urged people to vote by mail anyway and offered a set of four "I Voted" stickers as a reward. Watch below. Peter Weber