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Trump Threatens States Over Mail In Voting Amid Pandemic

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The U.S. President Donald Trump has shockingly threatened two states who are working to expand access to mail-in voting amid the CV pandemic. Trump stated he would withhold federal funding, funds that are desperately needed amid the crisis, which would only harm the citizens.

Trump accused Michigan and Nevada of sending “illegal” vote by mail ballots to voters and baseless accusations of “voter fraud.” However, Michigan is sending applications for absentee ballots to all its registered voters, not the ballots themselves. While in Nevada, all active registered voters will receive an absentee ballot.

“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Trump wrote in a tweet.

Michigan’s Secretary of State sarcastically replied to the U.S. president on Twitter: “Hi! I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia.”

In a second tweet speaking on Nevada, Trump tweeted, “State of Nevada ‘thinks’ that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections.”

Several other states have already taken steps to expand mail-in voting for the primaries and other voting. But legal battles have ensued in Texas, Nevada, Georgia, and Florida, among other states, where voting rights groups have sued to expand voting to mail-in ballots, PBS reported.

PBS reports:

“Currently, registered voters in 29 states can receive an absentee ballot by mail upon request, without providing a reason why they can’t vote in person. An additional 5 states — Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado and Utah — hold what are commonly known as “all-mail” elections. In those states, registered voters automatically receive a ballot by mail, and can return it by mail or vote early in person ahead of Election Day.

But 16 states still require voters to show they meet certain criteria in order to vote by mail with an absentee ballot. The criteria vary by state, but often include things like being over the age of 65, having a disability, or plans to be out of the country on Election Day.”

Hilariously, most states (33 states and Washington, D.C.) already allow voters to request and submit absentee mail-in ballots without explaining their reasoning according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

However, don’t tell Trump that or he might threaten other states with cutting federal funding that consider shifting to mail-in voting. Public health officials have stressed the need for — social distancing, and limiting contact with others, which could pose a problem for polling sites if the pandemic is still ongoing.

While Trump is right according to Propublica that mail-in ballots could enable voting fraud, its unheard of to threaten federal aid of states during a crisis. The bigger elephant to worry about is the funding for election infrastructure that is necessary to process mailed ballots, a transition that could take several months or years.

According to a report by ABC News, at least 19 voters or poll workers in Wisconsin who participated in person in Election Day during the state’s primary have tested positive for CV-19. However, State officials stated it was possible some of the new cases were not directly linked to the election. But this just highlights the potential for a flare-up in cases if millions of people attend polling stations to exercise their will to vote.

Business Insider also reports the other massive looming issue with mail-in ballot voting, is it typically takes decades to implement according to the publication.

The other alternative option is online voting which a growing number of experts including government officials argue is flawed and insecure. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) joined a group of federal agencies in condemning the idea of online voting in guidelines as The Guardian reported.

The guidelines, sent to states privately even described online voting as a “high risk.”

“Electronic ballot return, the digital return of a voted ballot by the voter, creates significant security risks to voted ballot integrity, voter privacy, ballot secrecy, and system availability,” the agencies wrote in state guidelines. “Securing the return of voted ballots via the internet while maintaining voter privacy is difficult, if not impossible, at this time.”

It’s worth mentioning for readers that Trump previously threatened federal funding of aid to California when the state was in the midst of battling wildfires. Trump has frequently politicized events but to withhold funding during a pandemic would be unheard of and would surely be met with lawsuits against the U.S. president and no doubt ensued backlash quickly following.

A recent YouGov poll that polled over 30,000 people found that majority of Americans (65%) support voting-by-mail. Those results included — Democrats (80%), Independents (64%), and Republicans (54%.)

If you are interested in voting, conforming to the system, and still feel like your vote counts you can see Vice’s article on how to set up mail-in ballots state by state here.

 

Alex Baldridge is an activist and freelance journalist from the midwestern United States who was inspired to become a writer after watching the development of the Wikileaks story and the persecution of Julian Assange. Alex is especially interested in topics like surveillance, the rise of automation, foreign policy, prison reform, and the legal system.

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