It seems like the title to this article could appropriately be used several days a week on any given week. But on Wednesday Morning President Trump decided to take to Twitter and voice his dissatisfaction with the states of Michigan and Nevada over their plans to expand mail-in voting for the coming elections in November. The incidents that sparked this are the plans of Michigan’s secretary of state to mail absentee voter applications to all registered voters in the state. In Nevada, all registered voters are being sent an absentee ballot prior to a June 9 scheduled primary.
According to the President, the actions of Michigan are both illegal and unauthorized (at this time we’re still awaiting word on what laws were broken and whose authority should have been sought). As a counter measure, President Trump stated that he would consider withholding funds from the state (at this time we’re still awaiting word on which funds would be withheld). He levelled a similar threat at Nevada in a different Tweet.
President Trump has long been a critic of mail in voting as he says it unfairly benefits Democrats and is prone to voter fraud. However, in a retaliatory Tweet, Michigan’s Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, pointed out that her actions were in line with the states of Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia, each of which have a Republican serving in the office of Secretary of State. Likewise, the Nevada Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, is a Republican.
Further, it needs to be pointed out that both of these states are taking these actions as a preventative measure in response to the Covid-19 virus. As part of the CARES Act, which the President signed into law on March 27, $400 million was apportioned to assist states in preparing for complications that the virus may present in the 2020 elections. Both states will be utilizing these funds for the programs in question.
Now, all of this is fine political theater, but the question remains, does the President have a point? Are these mail in votes more prone to fraud? Does mail-in voting benefit Democrats more?
According to research cited by Politico, mail in voting does not benefit one party over the other. Additionally, voter fraud is rare when legal protections are in place.
In an instance that directly contradicts the President’s assertions, Republican Mike Garcia recently won a special election for California’s 25th Congressional district. This was an election in which there was an unusually high number of mail-in votes due to the virus. It should also be pointed out that in the 2018 mid-term elections, a narrow Republican victory in North Carolina was thrown out because of illegal ballot harvesting on the part of the Republican victor.
This is not to say that there aren’t valid concerns over election integrity. There are.
But I think there might be more at play here than a simple concern over voter fraud. Both Michigan and Nevada are considered swing states in the upcoming election. Furthermore, the issue of voter fraud and mail-in voting has long been on the radar of Trump supporters. I suspect that in this case, as in many other cases, the President’s words aren’t meant so much to change a situation or carry any wight beyond his supporters. I suspect that this may be a rally cry for his voters in these states to stay active and to get out and vote when the time comes.
With recent polls suggesting that the President is losing ground to former Vice-President Joe Biden in several key demographics, he may be working to reinforce the area that the polls suggest is his biggest strength. That being voter enthusiasm.
According to polls, Trump’s voter enthusiasm outstrips Biden’s by a whopping margin of thirty points. If other poll trends not favorable to the President continue along their present trajectory, then adding fuel to the fire of voter enthusiasm from now until election day may end up being the deciding factor in Trump winning a second term.