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Fri May 22, 2020, 01:40 PM

Trump's attacks on vote-by-mail could hurt his voters

By Richard L. Hasen / The Washington Post

On Wednesday morning, President Trump threatened to withhold aid from Michigan and Nevada because of purportedly illegal activity related to absentee ballots. In reality, the states are doing nothing illegal; they are trying to ensure voters can exercise their right to vote without jeopardizing their health during a pandemic.

Even putting aside the likely unconstitutionality of the president conditioning aid to states upon acceding to his political demands, Trump’s unsupported claims are exceedingly troubling because they seek to cast doubt on the legitimacy and fairness of the upcoming elections without reason. Trump may not realize it, but they are also politically counterproductive for him: Rural Republican voters, even in blue states, may be the ones most hurt in November by attacks on mail-in balloting.

Let’s start with the facts. On Michigan, Trump wrote: “Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. 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!.” On Nevada, he wrote: “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.”

But Michigan is not sending absentee ballots to all 7.7 million registered voters in the state, as Trump’s claim — later retracted — suggests. Instead, as Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson explained, officials are sending absentee ballot applications to voters. These forms have to be filled out and sent back to election officials, who verify that these voters are, indeed, eligible to obtain ballots. Republican election officials in states such as Iowa and Nebraska have done the same thing. Political parties send such applications to voters all the time. Trump has offered no evidence that sending absentee ballot applications leads to the fraudulent casting of ballots.

https://www.heraldnet.com/opinion/comment-trumps-attacks-on-vote-by-mail-could-hurt-his-voters/

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