“Ignoring Trump and Right-Wing Think Tanks, Red States Expand Vote by Mail”

ProPublica has posted this article, which begins:

On April 23, during the same week that Kentucky’s Republican secretary of state said he was contemplating a “significant expansion” of vote by mail, the Public Interest Legal Foundation emailed one of his employees under the subject line “28 MILLION ballots lost.”

“Putting the election in the hands of the United States Postal Service would be a catastrophe,” wrote J. Christian Adams, president of PILF, a conservative organization that has long complained about voter fraud. His missive contended, with scant evidence, that “twice as many” mailed ballots “disappeared” in the 2016 presidential election than made up the margin of votes between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The state worker forwarded the message to his supervisor, who ignored it, according to emails obtained through a public records request. Only days later, Kentucky finalized its plan for the biggest increase in vote by mail in the state’s history. Secretary of State Mike Adams (no relation to J. Christian) said he had little trouble persuading legislators to pass the measure. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised on social media and elsewhere,” he said. “Republicans and Democrats both have been supportive of what we did.”

Not long ago, such a rebuff in a reliably red state to a conservative outlet’s warnings of voter fraud would have been unusual. Think tanks like PILF and the Heritage Foundation; advocacy groups like True the Vote; and politicians like Kris Kobach, Kansas’ former secretary of state, have effectively lobbied Republicans for decades for voter ID laws and stricter registration rules. They generally favor measures that would reduce turnout and oppose those, like vote by mail, that could make it easier to vote. The Heritage Foundation has hosted confidential meetings with like-minded secretaries of state “to strategize on advancing their shared goal of ensuring the integrity of the elections they administer in their home states,” records show.

But now, even as Trump has joined these advocates in denouncing vote by mail, Republican election administrators are rejecting their concerns. In Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia, GOP officials are expanding vote by mail. Even in Alabama, where Secretary of State John Merrill has long spoken out against vote by mail, the state has added the coronavirus to the reasons for which voters can request an absentee ballot.

Share this: