Pelosi defends push for mail-in voting: GOP 'afraid' to let people vote

Pelosi defends push for mail-in voting: GOP 'afraid' to let people vote
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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: 'Scary' to see uniformed troops on steps of Lincoln Memorial Pelosi: Democrats to unveil sweeping criminal justice proposal Monday Pelosi demands Trump clarify deployment of unidentified law enforcement in DC MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE and congressional Republicans of seeking to suppress voting out of fear of a fair verdict while defending Democratic efforts to expand mail-in balloting amid the coronavirus crisis.

"We have a different value system about what voting means to a democracy," Pelosi asserted during a call with reporters, referring to Republicans. "Clearly, we want to remove all obstacles to participation."

Democrats have sought to include billions of dollars in recent emergency relief bills to empower states to expand by-mail balloting amid fears that voting in person will exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus.

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Trump and GOP lawmakers have hammered the Democratic proposals, calling the idea a politically motivated power-grab. Trump, despite casting his own ballot by mail for Florida’s March 17 primary, has warned that the system is "corrupt" and invites widespread fraud.

“They grab thousands of mail-in ballots and they dump it,” he told reporters this week, accusing Democrats of using the coronavirus crisis to expand a vote-by-mail system that he says "doesn't work out for Republicans."

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"The things they had in there were crazy," Trump told "Fox & Friends" last week, three days after he'd signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. "They had things, levels of voting that if you'd ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Pelosi responded to the remarks on Thursday, questioning why the president is so concerned about high levels of voter participation.

"The president says that he thinks that if we had vote-by-mail no Republican will ever get elected. Well, have more confidence in what the Republican Party stands for," she said.

"It had been a Grand Old Party. It had been hijacked, I know," she continued. "But nonetheless ... Republicans know how to vote by mail. So he shouldn't belittle the ability of Republicans to make their voices heard for the candidates they support, and not be afraid of the voice of the people. But they are. And that's one of the reasons they want to stand in the way of a more open democratic system at a time of a pandemic."

The issue of mail-in voting was thrust into the spotlight this week when Wisconsin went ahead with its election after a last-ditch effort by the state's Democratic governor to delay the election was shot down by a series of courts, including the Supreme Court.

The Republican state legislators who forced the process said the delay made little sense since the coronavirus could linger for months.

“It is no guarantee that in May or June we’re gonna be safer,” said GOP Speaker Robin Vos. “We could be dealing with this in August or November.”

Critics maintained that voters were left with a no-win choice between exercising their democratic rights and protecting their personal health. Thousands reportedly stayed at home out of safety concerns.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Floyd eulogies begin; Trump-Esper conflict emerges The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force MORE (R-Calif.) on Thursday joined Trump in bashing Democrats over mail-in voting, saying it's "disgusting" that Pelosi wants "to change election law for November [because] somehow you think that gives you some political benefit."

"Let's get our economy back on feet and then we can debate about elections," he told reporters on a phone call. "Do not use this for political gains. That is wrong."

Pelosi was unmoved, arguing that the additional funding proposals don't mandate mail-in ballots, but merely allow states to establish such a system for those wary of going to the polls amid the coronavirus scare.

"We do want to have vote-by-mail because we think that it ... removes obstacles to participation but it's also healthier at this time," she said. "Some people may prefer to go to the polls, but the lower that number is, the healthier for everyone."