Why Does Trump Want To Stop People From Voting by Mail?
“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president tweeted on Wednesday morning. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” In a rare concession to reality, he amended that tweet in the afternoon, replacing “absentee ballots” with “absentee ballot applications,” which are what Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson actually sent to registered voters.
Trump is also upset about absentee voting in Nevada. “State of Nevada ‘thinks’ that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S.,” he tweeted in the morning. “They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections.”
Since Trump himself voted by absentee ballot in Florida’s presidential primary two months ago, you might wonder why he wants to deny Michigan and Nevada voters the same opportunity, especially at a time when COVID-19 fears might make people reluctant to gather at polling places. And why those states specifically, when five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) conduct elections almost entirely by mail, while 28 others require no special justification for absentee voting? You also might wonder why Trump views voting by mail in those states as illegal, cheating, or a form of voter fraud. In any case, why does Trump think he has the authority to punish states for election procedures he does not like by withholding federal funding?
Those are all good questions. Unfortunately, there are no good answers.
Michigan and Nevada are both battleground states where the margins of victory were small in the 2016 presidential election. Trump won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes, about 0.02 percent of the ballots cast. Hillary Clinton won Nevada by about 27,000 votes, 2.4 percent of the ballots cast.
Are Democrats more likely to vote by mail than Republicans? Trump certainly seems to think so. In a March 30 interview on Fox News, he criticized COVID-19 legislation proposed by House Democrats that would have required states to allow “no excuse” absentee ballot applications and, if an election is held during a national emergency, to send every registered voter a mail-in ballot. “The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said. “They
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