Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, weighed in on Monday on whether Democrats could be trying to manipulate Tuesday's special election for California’s 25th Congressional District seat by opening up a new in-person voting center in a Democratic area.
“It was just done right here at the end and it stinks,” Rove said on “America’s Newsroom.” “You don't do things like this at the end of a contest.
“It looks like you’re trying to jimmy the rules and give one side or the other an advantage."
Rove made the comments two days after National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer, R-Minn., sent a memo to all House Republicans with an "urgent call to arms" that Democrats are trying to "steal" Tuesday's special election between Republican Mike Garcia and Democrat Christy Smith.
The winner will fill out the term of freshman Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., who resigned in October 2019 amid a "throuple" ethics scandal.
Garcia and top Republicans are crying foul about the county's decision to open up a new in-person voting center Saturday in a more Democratic area of the district. They argue Democrats pushed for the extra voting location after seeing mail-in ballot returns were favoring the GOP.
“This is going to be an important race,” Rove noted. “The last time the Republicans took a Democratic congressional held seat in California was 1998, 22 years ago, and Mike Garcia right now, at least until the last couple of days, looked like he was building up a pretty good lead in the mail-in ballots.”
Rove went on to explain that “in California, everybody received a ballot in the mail” and it is supposed to be returned by mail. However, if it is not returned by mail, “you can still show up on Election Day and vote at one of a small number of locations in this congressional district.”
“So what the Democrats did here at the end was they opened up an additional voting location in Lancaster, which is heavily Hispanic and African-American and largely Democrat," Rove noted. "Even though it has a Republican mayor, which they've been quick to point out, it’s largely a Democrat town and they did so here right at the end."
"No one was saying this weeks ago," he added.
President Trump echoed Emmer’s concerns on Twitter Saturday and blasted the "rigged election" in the northern Los Angeles County district.
"Governor [Gavin Newsom] of California won't let restaurants, beaches and stores open, but he installs a voting booth system in a highly Democrat area (supposed to be mail in ballots only) because our great candidate [Mike Garcia] is winning by a lot. CA25 Rigged Election!" Trump tweeted.
On Friday the Los Angeles County Democratic Party tweeted, “We’re sorry the @NRCC & @MikeGarcia2020 don’t believe voters, especially voters of color, in Lancaster should have adequate access to voting centers in their city to vote. We & @ChristyforCA25 believe everyone should be able to vote safely in their communities. #sorrynotsorry”
President Trump has also opposed voting by mail arguing that it invites voter fraud abuse.
“Mail-in voting is horrible. It’s corrupt,” he charged at a Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House several weeks ago. The president didn’t offer evidence to back up his claim that voting by mail is rampant with fraud and abuse.
“I do think we got to be careful about mail-in ballots,” Rove said on Monday.
He then brought up Texas as an example.
“We’ve made Texas the harvesting of ballots,” Rove said. “It is to say you mail out ballots and then individuals who are not government officials can stop by and collect them.”
“We've made it illegal in Texas after a series of scandals involving people, primarily in Democratic primaries, who came by and basically took the ballots of people who were nearly comatose, not really capable of making rational decisions and voting their ballots for their preferred candidate in the primaries.”
Rove then pointed out that “California allows this to be done legally.”
“You mail everybody a ballot and somebody can come knock on your door and say, ‘I'm from one party or the other, let me help you fill out your ballot and I'll take care of sending it in for you,’” he said. “So there is [sic] some problems with mail-in ballots, particularly when everybody receives one.”
He also noted that given “the environment we find ourselves in” amid the coronavirus pandemic, everyone might not get their ballot on time and some people may not currently reside at the address where a ballot is mailed to.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.