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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows argued for more than 20 minutes with host Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday over the viability of "universal" mail-in voting, arguing that states that are sending ballots to all registered voters are "just asking for a disaster."

Why it matters: The issue of mail-in voting during the pandemic has quickly become one of the most contentious debates in U.S. politics, especially in light of recent operational changes made to the U.S. Postal Service that have caused widespread delays and backlogs.

  • President Trump and others in the administration have led a campaign to undermine the credibility of universal mail-in voting ahead the election, though they have repeatedly said they have no problem with absentee ballots.
  • Fraud from mail-in voting has historically been rare, according to the Brennan Center. Oregon — a state that votes primarily by mail — has documented only about a dozen cases of fraud out of more than 100 million ballots since 2000.

Driving the news: President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump last week received their absentee ballots to vote in Florida. The White House and Trump campaign argue that absentee ballots and mail-in voting are different, but election experts say there is no real distinction.

Key exchange:

MEADOWS: "The problem that we have here is that a lot of people are looking at just sending out ballots. California is sending out ballots. When they just send out ballots, my home state of North Carolina —"
TAPPER: "California already did that for about 75% of its population. Now it's 100%. But Utah has done it for years. Oregon has done it for years. Washington has done it for years. Now there are four states that are adding to the sending out ballots to every registered voter. I understand that that's a concern that you're claiming. "
MEADOWS: "Isn't it a concern to you? Do you realize how inaccurate the voter rolls are with just people just moving around? Let alone the people that die off. But sending ballots out based on a voter roll registration? Any time you move, you change your driver's license but you don't call up and say, by the way, I'm reregistering for -- "
TAPPER: "But there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud. "
MEADOWS: "There's no evidence that there's not either. That's the definition of fraud, Jake."

What to watch: Meadows suggested that the White House would be open to passing a standalone bill — separate from coronavirus stimulus negotiations — to fund the U.S. Postal Service.

Go deeper: The 2020 election will be like no other because of mail-in voting

Go deeper

GOP Rep. Fred Upton on Trump's push against Michigan election results: "It's over"

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told CNN's "Inside Politics" on Sunday that "the voters have spoken” in Michigan, and that it's time to move on from the election after no evidence of mass voter fraud has been found in his home state.

Why it matters: President Trump reached out directly to Republican leaders last week in Michigan as part of a long-shot effort to prevent the state from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the New York Times reports.

Nov 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Inside Republicans' troubled Election Day operations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As President Trump unsuccessfully argues fraudulent voter claims, campaign operatives tell Axios the reality is the joint EDO (Election Day operations) by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee left them feeling largely unprepared to challenge ballots in real time.

Why it matters: With several states moving toward certifying election results this week, the postmortems are beginning as political operatives try to understand what worked, what didn't and how to adjust going forward.

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.