Biden Jets to Delaware to Vote Instead of Using Mail Ballot

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden, who depended on mail-in votes to win office in 2020, unexpectedly flew Air Force One to his home state of Delaware on Tuesday to cast a primary election ballot in-person.

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The White House didn’t publicly announce the trip until just before he left. Asked before boarding his plane why he was traveling to his home state on short notice, the president answered: “To vote.”

He didn’t answer when asked why he hadn’t simply requested and returned an absentee ballot. Delaware also offered in-person early voting on Saturday, when Biden was at his home in Wilmington.

Instead, Biden employed two motorcades, local police protection and the Boeing 757 version of Air Force One to vote in an election with no high-profile races on the ballot.

It’s a departure from the practice of other presidents in midterm election years. Former President Barack Obama cast absentee ballots in the 2010 and 2014 Illinois primary races, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

There is no record of former President Donald Trump voting in the 2018 primaries in New York, but he also voted absentee in the general elections that year as well as in the 2020 general election -- even as he baselessly argued that mail-in ballots were tainted by fraud.

Biden and Democrats have backed vote-by-mail as a means to encourage more people to cast ballots, especially during the 2020 election when social distancing measures were still in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trip is likely to draw more criticism from Republicans. The president has come under attack from the Republican National Committee over visits to his Wilmington and Rehobeth, Delaware, homes, with the organization noting he has spent 40% of his presidency in the First State.

It is difficult to put an exact price on presidential trips, but a Government Accountability Office report found that federal agencies incurred $13.6 million in costs for government aircraft and temporary duty expenses for personnel supporting the president during four 2017 Trump visits to his Mar-a-Lago club.

Delaware is among the last states to hold their primary races. The only statewide primary race pits the incumbent Democratic state auditor Kathy McGuiness, who awaits sentencing on criminal convictions, against challenger Lydia York, who has been endorsed by the state Democratic Party. The other contests are for state legislature seats and local offices.

Presidential visits to polling places have sometimes resulted in humorous moments. Obama returned to Chicago to vote early in the 2014 general election, when he stood at a booth next to a woman whose boyfriend approached him and joked, “Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.”

Obama gave her a hug after voting.

(Updates with Biden remark in second paragraph)

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