Donald Trump is working to eliminate any scenario, including mail-in voting, that he believes would prevent his re-election. Not only is he trying to stop voting by mail, he is threatening to withhold already-approved federal funds to two states who have recently authorized mail-in voting.
In an effort to make voting as accessible (and safe) as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nevada and Michigan, both states with Democratic governors, have recently decided to mail absentee ballot applications to all of their registered voters.
On Tuesday, Trump went on the attack. “Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
Later in the day, after it was pointed out that Michigan was sending absentee ballot applications, not ballots, Trump corrected “absentee ballots” to say “absentee ballot applications.”
Even if tweeting “ballot” instead of “ballot application” was an honest mistake, Trump still did not correct the false claim that allowing mail-in voting was illegal, and he didn’t remove the threat to hold up funds to Michigan if they followed through with the plan.
On the same day, Trump repeated the terms, “illegal” and “voter fraud,” along with his threat to hold up funds, when he aimed a tweet attack at 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. They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections.”
Voting by mail is not illegal, but we know what is: Threatening state leaders with the holding back of funds for their state. (Threatening to withhold funds from a government leader…Does this sound at all familiar?)
But, what funds, exactly? States are paying for any changes to elections through coronavirus relief measures that Trump has already signed into law.
It’s interesting that Trump is adamantly opposing Michigan’s and Nevada’s mail-in voting initiatives for all voters when five other states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) have been voting by mail for years. Trump is also not threatening Republican-run states such as West Virginia, that have approved mailing absentee ballot applications to all of its registered voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When we realize how focused Trump is on stopping these particular two states from voting by mail, it removes all doubt about his main intent: to suppress voters.
Trump has continually insisted that mail-in voting increases the likelihood of voter fraud, and that if more voters voted, Democrats would win. (What he’s saying is that in a fair election, where a Republican is unsuccessful at preventing groups of people from voting, more Democrats will have a chance to vote.)
Contradictory to Trump’s belief that mail-in voting helps Democrats to win, data shows that this is not true. It’s also been shown that voter fraud, particularly by mail, is rare.
“There are still Republicans elected in many of the areas that have voting by mail,” says Thad Kousser, chairman of the Political Science department at the University of California, San Diego. “Democrats and Republicans alike appreciate this option.”
Trump says he wants to stop mail-in voting to prevent voter fraud, but he is also clearing the way to cry “voter fraud,” and for his base to start parroting him, should mail-in voting result in his losing re-election. This is Trump’s warm-up to contesting the election, should he be taken down.
If Trump can’t stop mail-in voting, he has another trick up his sleeve: vaporizing the U.S. Postal Service. As America focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump, who has long wanted to make “major changes” to the U.S.P.S., has rather quietly appointed a new postmaster general. Businessman Louis LeJoy, a trump ally and a top donor to the Republican National Committee, will join the other Trump cronies appointed to high government posts.
With LeJoy in command at the U.S. Postal Service, Donald Trump will have more control and influence over the independent agency. If the Postal Service continues to function up to the time of the 2020 presidential election, will anyone be surprised if large bundles of mail-in votes mysteriously begin to disappear?
Trump threatens to withhold funds from Michigan over mail-in voting
| Reuters [2020-0520]
Trump: We Don’t Want Michigan to Do Mail-In Ballots, Citing Voter Fraud | Bloomberg [2020-05-21]