President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to put federal funds on two electoral battlefields trying to make voting easier and safer during the coronavirus pandemic.
He came back from that threat, but was embroiled in his unsupported claim that voting by mail was “highly encouraging illegality.”
The president targeted Michigan with a false tweet on his voting plans, and went after Nevada in the latest – and most tumultuous – episode of his campaign against mail-in voting.
Since the states switched to remote voting following health authorities’ recommendations on safety, Trump rejected the practice and called for restricting access. He repeatedly cited no evidence that mailed ballots would permit widespread fraud, and he was openly concerned that widespread availability could lead many people to vote, something Republicans would lose in November.
His GOP colleagues, meanwhile, have opposed changes to court voting and opposed funding to expand mail-in voting in Congress.
On Wednesday, Trump used the federal aid money to knock back.
Trump has moved on after Michigan to deny Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s announcement that she will send applications for absentee ballots to every voter in the state. While Republican state secretaries have taken the action elsewhere, Trump has shattered his hopes for the state’s key action.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, “Michigan will send an absentee ballot to 7.7 million people before the primary and general election.” Democrats in Michigan and elsewhere have been severely criticized, and the president’s tweet six hours later tweeted that the state is sending applications rather than actual ballots.
He was adamant with the rest of his tweet: “It’s illegal and made by the Secretary of State.” If they want to get in the way of this voter fraud I tell Michigan to keep the money! ”
Trump later tweeted that he would withdraw funding from Nevada, which sent voters to the state for the June 9 primary. A federal judge recently approved Nevada’s decision to mail the ballots sent by the Republican Secretary of State.
It is not clear what funding Trump is proposing, but states are voting with federal aid aimed at supporting the election during the epidemic. As of Wednesday evening, Trump told reporters he had spoken to the Democratic Michigan government, Gretchen Wittmer, and did not think the funding would be cut.