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Trump threatens to cut off funding to Michigan, Nevada, over ‘illegal’ absentee ballot initiatives

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding from two states where officials are sending out millions of mail-in absentee ballots over concerns of “voter fraud.”

“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,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1263074783673102337

“I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

Michigan is a key battleground state that President Trump narrowly won in 2016.

About an hour later, the president sent out a similar message to Nevada officials, pinging the U.S. Treasury Department and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vaught.

“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. @RussVought45 @USTreasury,” the president wrote.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1263094958417985538

The president warned in the past that allowing people to cast ballots in any way other than in person can lead to widespread vote fraud — which Democrats are actively pursuing, both in Congress and in blue states around the country, using the coronavirus pandemic as their excuse.

“Mail ballots — they cheat. OK? People cheat,” he said last month. “There’s a lot of dishonesty going along with mail-in voting.”

Trump’s current comments come following an announcement by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that her office is sending absentee ballots to all 7.7 million registered voters so they can take part in the August and November elections without having to do so in person, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Benson, a Democrat, claims the move is necessary to mitigate the risk of having people contract coronavirus, which has killed 5,000 mostly older residents in the state. But her decision comes as the disease curve has flattened across the country and as infection and death rates have already begun to fall in many regions.

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavaske noted that county election officials started mailing out ballots in early May for the June 9 primary because of COVID-19 health concerns. 

“Mail-in ballots provide Nevadans an accurate and valid way to vote this primary election in the comfort, safety and privacy of their own homes by simply mailing it or dropping it off,” Wayne Thorley, deputy secretary of state for elections, said in a May 1 statement.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out concerns about Nevada’s elections last week.

“This is how the Democrats plan to win…by cheating,” he wrote as he retweeted a Fox News report noting that unclaimed mail-in ballots have led to concerns about vote fraud.

The problem with mailing ballots based on voter registration rolls alone is that they are often outdated and contain names of people who have moved or have died.

In California earlier this month, an election watchdog claimed that at least hundreds of people were mailed duplicate ballots. According to data obtained by California’s Election Integrity Project, more than 770 duplicate voter registrants have received two or more ballots for a pair of special elections.

According to federal law, jurisdictions are required to keep their voter registration lists updated. But it’s unclear how many actually do.

Last month, the Public Interest Legal Foundation released a study indicating that as many as 28 million mail-in ballots “went missing” over the past decade.

Jon Dougherty

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