Trump: Mail-in voting supporters trying to use coronavirus outbreak for ‘scam’

President Trump on Sunday ramped up his attacks against mail-in voting, suggesting that its supporters are trying to use the coronavirus outbreak to perpetrate a “scam.”

“The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history,” Trump said on Twitter, arguing that some absentee voting was acceptable but that widespread mail-in voting increased the opportunity for fraud.

“People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and ‘force’ people to sign. Also, forge names,” he alleged without citing evidence. “Trying to use Covid for this Scam!”


Trump has repeatedly shared unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting since winning the 2016 presidential election. He’s become increasingly vocal about the issue in recent weeks, as more states increase vote-by-mail opportunities due to concerns about individuals packing into polling locations during the pandemic. 

After Michigan and Nevada took steps last week to increase voting by mail, Trump threatened to withhold federal funding for the states. He also argued that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s (D) move to send applications for absentee ballots to the state’s 7.7 million registered voters was done “illegally” and “without authorization.”

Benson said in a statement announcing the decision that sending mail-in applications would help ensure safety amid the pandemic. She’s also noted that the decision was “completely within my authority,” as voters passed a ballot measure in 2018 permitting no-reason absentee voting. 

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) also said that conducting the state’s primary election by mail was a “necessary and prudent decision,” given the health concerns. 

Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — already hold elections almost entirely by mail. Meanwhile, 33 states and the District of Columbia give voters the option. Other states allow voting by mail only in certain circumstances, though the coronavirus outbreak has prompted further debate about relaxing certain restrictions. 

A federal judge in Texas, for example, ruled last week that registered voters in the state could apply to vote by mail during the pandemic, saying that the state’s current absentee voting rules would put unconstitutional and illegal burdens on Texas voters. 

Recent polls indicate that public support for voting by mail is gaining popularity among Americans. An Associated Press-NORC survey released last month found that a majority of respondents favored allowing people to vote by mail without needing to provide a reason. 

About 66 percent of Americans say they’d support voting by mail as an alternative to in-person voting on Election Day if the coronavirus continues to pose a public health threat in November, according to a USA Today-Suffolk University poll.

Opinions break along party lines, however, with Republicans being far more wary of the voting method than Democrats. 

Speaking about the issue on CNN on Sunday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he was confident mail-in voting could be conducted as long as there were laws in place to combat “fraud.”

“I think as long as you can do it safely and as long as you can make sure there’s no fraud, we ought to be able to do absentee ballots like we do it in Florida,” Scott said. “I’m fine with absentee ballots the way we do it in Florida, with early voting the way we do it in Florida, with Election Day voting, which is clearly the safest.” 

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