Republican officials throughout the country are reacting with growing alarm to President Donald Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots, saying his unsubstantiated claims of mass voting fraud are already corroding the views of GOP voters, who may ultimately choose not to vote at all if they can’t make it to the polls come November.
Behind the scenes, top Republicans are urging senior Trump campaign officials to press the President to change his messaging and embrace mail-in voting, warning that the party could lose the battle for control of Congress and the White House if he doesn’t change his tune, according to multiple GOP sources. Trump officials, sources said, are fully aware of the concerns.The impact could be detrimental to the GOP up and down the ticket, according to a bevy of Republican election officials, field operatives, pollsters and lawmakers who are watching the matter closely.
Every vote will count in critical battleground states, they argue, fearful that deterring GOP voters from choosing a convenient option to cast their ballots could ultimately sway the outcome of races that are decided by a couple of percentage points.
And with the coronavirus pandemic potentially bound to get worse in the fall, voting by mail is becoming an increasingly popular option since many voters may prefer not to wait in long lines at polling stations. That will leave Democrats with a major advantage if their voters send their ballots by mail while Republican voters forgo that option simply because they are listening to the concerns of the President….
And Republicans, too, are concerned that Trump’s criticism of the process could cast doubt on the integrity of the election, particularly in closely contested states like Ohio.
“It is irresponsible — whether it’s a Republican or Democrat — for people to create a sense, incorrectly, in the minds of voters that they can’t trust their elections,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, referring to both the President’s claims and Biden’s recent suggestion that Trump might not leave office if he loses.
In Ohio, nearly 8 million registered voters will get absentee ballot requests after Labor Day, and LaRose predicts that roughly 35%-40% of the ballots will ultimately come by mail in November, up from roughly 20%-25% in past elections, amounting to the “highest level of vote-by-mail that we’ve ever seen in our state’s history.”
“When people try to say that voting by mail or absentee mailing benefits one party — it just doesn’t bear out in Ohio. People want to vote,” LaRose said. But asked if fewer Republican voters may choose to vote absentee in November because of the President’s criticisms, he said: “That’s absolutely a possibility.”