President Trump falsely accused Michigan and Nevada of illegally sending vote-by-mail ballots to registered voters Wednesday morning, threatening to halt funding to the states in retaliation. In reality, the states are merely joining the ranks of other states—both red and blue ones—that are making absentee ballot applications easily available and introducing safer voting practices in response to covid-19. But, presumably, the more people who are able to vote the less likely Trump’s chances of re-election, which is why he’s giving voter suppression his all.
Trump fired off his claims on Twitter, starting by targeting Michigan. Since picking a fight with its governor, Gretchen Whitmer, the president is already on bad terms with the state and now wants to draw Secretary of State into the beef.
“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump wrote. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State.”
He continued, “I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
But Michigan did not send out absentee ballots; the state simply sent out absentee ballot applications. And Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—a Republican—resented Trump’s voter fraud charge. Benson corrected him via Twitter, noting that Republican governors in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia have also sent out absentee ballot applications to voters.
But this didn’t stop Trump from directing his ire toward a new target: 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.” Trump tweeted. They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State.”
Nevada will send absentee ballots to all registered voters, a move that was reportedly spearheaded by its Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who CBS News calls “the sole statewide elected Republican in Nevada.”
Voting absentee isn’t cheating, isn’t more likely to cause voter fraud, and doesn’t necessarily give one political party more leverage over another. A handful of states already offer universal vote-by-mail. But Trump has been sounding a false alarm, equating alternative means of voting to voter fraud, for well over a month now: On April 7, Trump—without evidence—said, “Mail ballots — they cheat. OK? People cheat. There’s a lot of dishonesty going along with mail-in voting.”
If vote-by-mail does, in fact, take hold in a majority of states by the November election, expect Trump’s opinion on the practice—or the legitimacy of the election entirely—to be dictated by whether he wins or loses.