Capito: Trump’s criticism of absentee voting harmed reelection bid

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the presidential race remaining too close to call, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said President Donald Trump did not help himself by criticizing absentee votes.

Capito’s comments on Wednesday’s “MetroNews Talkline” came after Trump declared victory in this year’s presidential race as states counted votes. Trump spent much of Wednesday criticizing efforts to count absentee ballots, which have shifted races from favorable toward the president to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Trump issued multiple unproven criticisms regarding the security of voting by mail ahead of Election Day.

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted,” Trump posted on Twitter. “VERY STRANGE, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!”

Twitter has flagged several tweets from the president about the election, saying the tweets could be misleading.

Capito said voters had valid reasons to vote by mail, including the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think, in a way, he could have surprised some other voters that would have come out for him,” she said.

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office allowed voters to request an absentee ballot by citing the coronavirus.

“If there’s allegations of fraud — and I’m sure that there’s been some funny business, there always is in elections — we need to get to the bottom of it quickly,” Capito added. “I’m sure he’s got his lawyers on it right now. That’s what he should do. That’s what I would do if I were in his position, and I’m sure Joe Biden’s got his lawyers on it as well.”

The Trump campaign filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court about absentee voting in Pennsylvania, in which the court previously declined to expedite a case about counting ballots received three days after the election.

The campaign also filed legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia about campaign observers. Officials announced plans to request a recount in Wisconsin, in which multiple outlets have declared Biden the winner.

Capito unofficially won a second term in the U.S. Senate, defeating Democratic candidate Paula Jean Swearengin.

Swearengin has not conceded the race; she said Tuesday in a video she is waiting for a final count of absentee ballots before making a further announcement.

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