President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to freeze federal funding for two election battlefield states that are trying to make voting easier and safer during the coronavirus pandemic. He backed down from that threat but stuck with his unsupported claim about mail voting.
PTI , Updated: 21 May 2020, 10:47:34 am
As states have moved to remote voting, following recommendations from health officials on safety, Trump has denied the practice and sought to limit access. (photo credit: News Nation)
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to keep federal funding for two election battleground states that are trying to make voting easier and safer during the coronavirus pandemic. He backed down on that threat but stuck to his unsupported claim that widespread voting by mail encourages ‘a lot of illegality’. The president targeted Michigan with a false tweet on its voting plans and even went after Nevada in the latest ‘and most confusing’ episode in his campaign against mail-in voting.
As states have moved to remote voting, following recommendations from health officials on safety, Trump denounced the practice and sought to limit access. He has repeatedly said without evidence that mailed ballots allow widespread fraud and is publicly concerned that wide availability may allow so many people to vote that Republicans will lose in November. Meanwhile, his GOP allies struggled for changes to vote in court and opposed funding to expand mail-in voting in Congress.
Wednesday marked the first time that Trump has tried to use federal aid money to beat it back. Trump began by going after Michigan, mistaking Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s announcement that she would send applications for absentee ballots to every voter in the state. However, Republican secretaries of state have taken the move elsewhere, with Trump emphasizing the move in a state key to his re-election hopes. “Michigan sent absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of primary and general elections,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. Tea
The cap drew strong criticism from Democrats in Michigan and elsewhere, pointing out that the state was sending applications, not actual ballots, an error the president corrected in a tweet six hours later. He stuck with the rest of his tweet: ‘This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. If they want to go down this path of voter fraud, I’ll tell Michigan to stop funding!’ Trump later tweeted a similar threat to withdraw funds from Nevada, which has sent ballots to voters for the June 9 state primary.
A federal judge recently approved Nevada’s decision to mail ballots that were sent by the Republican secretary of state. It was unclear which fund Trump was referencing, but states are paying for voting changes with federal aid aimed at supporting elections during the pandemic. As of Wednesday evening, Trump told reporters he had spoken with Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn’t think the funding would have to be cut. ‘I don’t think it will be necessary,’ he said. He said he stood by his opposition to mail voting.
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First published: 21 May 2020, 10:47:34 am