President Trump on Wednesday escalated his campaign to discredit the integrity of mail balloting, threatening to “hold up” federal funding to Michigan and Nevada in response to the states’ plans to increase voting by mail to reduce the public’s exposure to the coronavirus.
Without evidence, Trump called the two states’ plans “illegal,” and he incorrectly claimed that Michigan’s “rogue” secretary of state is planning to mail ballots to all voters. The state is planning to send applications for mail-in ballots to all voters — not ballots themselves.
“This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted about Michigan. “I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
Trump later corrected the error and suggested he would not need to withhold federal money, but he did not retreat from his claim that both states are taking steps that will encourage voter fraud. A spokesman for the Trump campaign asserted that the Michigan secretary of state did not have legal authority to send ballot applications to all voters, a claim that she disputed.Ohio Gov. says it’s ‘too early’ to make a decision on how voters will cast their ballots in Nov.
Speaking to reporters later at the White House, the president claimed without proof that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.”
“I think just common sense would tell you that massive manipulation can take place,” he said. “And you do have cases of fraudulent ballots where they actually print them and they give them to people to sign, maybe the same person signs them with different writing, different pens. I don’t know. It’s a lot of things can happen.”…
The Trump campaign itself is encouraging supporters to request absentee ballots, such as in an email sent to Pennsylvania voters Wednesday that urged them to “request your ballot and cast your vote from your own home.”
Spokesman Tim Murtaugh said that the campaign is against mailing all voters ballots because it could lead to fraud, but “it is responsible to advise our voters of what the laws are in their states.”