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The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate over mail-in voting heats up

The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate over mail-in voting heats up
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:  

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered that most voting in the state's June 2nd primary be done by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only some in-person polling places for voters who cannot vote by mail.

The development comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE claimed earlier this week that mail-in-voting poses a "tremendous potential for fraud," along with a major disadvantage to the GOP. Trump was asked about the measure after Wisconsin held its primary despite the ongoing crisis. 

Trump's claim has raised questions as to how widespread voter fraud actually is. Voting rights and election experts say that mail-in-voting is more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting, but that voter fraud is rare, and any potential risks can be prevented if the proper precautions are taken. 

"Where we see fraud, we tend to see it in absentee voting," said Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, pointing to the 2018 election in North Carolina's 9th congressional district. In that election, a contractor working for Republican candidate Mark HarrisMark HarrisTrump sparks debate over merits of voting by mail The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate over mail-in voting heats up Bevin says he lost because liberals are 'good at harvesting votes' in urban areas MORE was charged with elections fraud in connection to an absentee ballot collection scheme.

State officials later overturned the results of that election and called a special election. 

Experts have recommended a number of efforts to prevent fraud, including holding mock elections. 

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"Let's pretend, we got these ballots in the mail. Let's scan them? How long does it take to scan a ballot? What is our error defect rate?" said Theresa Payton, CEO of Fortalice Solutions and author of the forthcoming book "Manipulated: Inside the Cyberwar to Hijack Elections and Distort the Truth." "How we will audit an all absentee ballot, or maybe as high as 40-percent-absentee-ballot election because they're not used to that yet."

Democratic lawmakers, led by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing House Democrats slam FCC chairman over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump MORE (Ore.), called on the federal government to send at least $1.6 billion to the states as part of the next coronavirus spending package and for Congress to impose requirements to ensure states permit vote-by-mail.

However, it is not yet clear whether GOP lawmakers will back the move. Republicans have continued to voice skepticism about vote-by-mail measures.

Don't expect this issue to go away if the pandemic continues into the summer and early fall. The more the crisis cuts into the fall, the more likely we will hear calls for expanded mail-in-voting for the general election in November. 

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

 

Biden is facing an uphill battle in unifying the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party as Americans deal with the coronavirus crisis, The Hill's Julia Manchester and Max Greenwood report. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats must focus on winning White House for Biden MORE's (I-Vt.) exit from the race on Wednesday left Biden as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. However, Sanders is not going quietly, pledging to stay on the ballot in the remaining primaries to amass enough delegates to inflict pressure on the Democratic establishment to adopt progressive ideas, like "Medicare for All." Biden, in turn, will have to contend with pushing his own centrist agenda while uniting a fractured party on a virtual basis for the time being.

 

An ad released by the Trump campaign on Friday was met with anger from Democrats, who accused the campaign of singling out former Washington Gov. Gary Locke (D) because of his ethnicity, The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports. The ad was intended to cast Biden as soft on China, but it also features Locke, who is Chinese American, standing next to a Chinese flag. Democrats said the image is indistinguishable from the other images of Chinese officials and was included either because Locke looks Chinese or in an effort to stoke suspicion around him because of his ethnicity.

 

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, said on Thursday that she would be "honored" to be tapped as Biden's running mate, The Hill's Justine Coleman reports. "I would be honored to be on the campaign trail as a running mate," she said on the podcast "Pod Save America." "But that is a process that you can't campaign for, and I'm not campaigning for. I'm just being straight-forward." Biden has already committed to choosing a woman as his running mate, though some in the party have urged him to choose a woman of color.

 

PERSPECTIVES:

Tim Alberta: 'The woman in Michigan' goes national

Thomas Frank: How the anti-populists stopped Sanders

Andrew Sullivan: It's time to break up with China

Garrett Epps: Supreme Court's Wisconsin decision was reckless partisanship

 

FROM CONGRESS & THE STATES:

With some policymakers scrambling to expand alternatives to in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, legal experts say that a new round of court fights could be on the horizon, The Hill's John Kruzel reports.

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MONEY WATCH:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is spending upwards of $1 million on a digital ad blitz praising Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak, Max reports. Trump has faced an onslaught of negative advertising from liberal groups in recent weeks, and the new investment from the RNC is intended to push back against the narrative that the president initially downplayed the pandemic and was slow to respond as the disease spread.

 

POLL WATCH:

 

FOX NEWS – NATIONAL

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Biden: 42 percent

Trump: 42 percent

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

(Keep in mind these dates could change because of the outbreak.)

April 10:

Alaska

 

April 17:

Wyoming

 

April 26:

Puerto Rico Democratic primary

 

April 28:

Ohio

 

ONE HOPEFUL THING

HAPPY EASTER: We're in the midst of a global pandemic, but that's not stopping folks across the world from taking part in Easter celebrations. 

One doctor in South Carolina, who has been working tirelessly on the frontlines, dressed up as the Easter Bunny to bring some joy to kids from their front lawns and doorsteps. 

 

 

Meanwhile, others are still taking part in traditions, like coloring Easter eggs

 

 

One thing is for certain though, Easter egg hunts will not be the same this year.

 

 

Whether you're celebrating Easter or Passover, we hope you and your loved ones have a great weekend. 

We'll see you next week with all of the latest campaign news!