The White House on Wednesday said President Biden’s abrupt trip to Delaware to vote in person, which cost taxpayers thousands of dollars, was justified by his busy schedule.
Critics said Mr. Biden could have used an absentee ballot or participated in early in-person voting when he was in Delaware over the weekend. Taxpayers had to pick up the tab for the extra Air Force One trip, plus the presidential motorcade and police escort to the polls.
“The president has a very heavy schedule. He’s the president of the United States. It worked out best for him to vote yesterday, to vote on Tuesday,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. “He thought it was important to exercise his constitutional right to vote, as I just mentioned, and set an example by showing the importance of voting.”
Ms. Jean-Pierre added that by attending in person, Mr. Biden was able to say hello and thank poll workers for their efforts
“We know how under attack poll workers have been these past several years,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said.
She also said that past presidents have returned to their home states to vote.
On Tuesday evening, Mr. Biden abruptly left the White House on an unscheduled trip to Wilmington. The White House later said he went to vote in the state’s primary election. He returned to Washington a few hours later.
The move also caught some by surprise because there were no high-profile races in Delaware with the election for state auditor gaining the most attention.
It was also a departure from the practice of presidents casting absentee ballots in midterm election years. President Obama cast absentee ballots in the 2010 and 2014 Illinois primary races.
There is no public record about whether President Trump voted in the 2018 primaries.
Mr. Biden and Democrats have pushed absentee ballots as a way to encourage more people to cast ballots, especially during the 2020 election when the COVID-19 social distancing measures were still in place.
When asked Tuesday night why he didn’t request an absentee ballot, Mr. Biden did not respond.
“I think by the president going to vote, that sends a very strong message to the American public,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.