Why Trump Threatened To Stop Funding Mail-In Voting In Michigan

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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he might “hold up funding” to Michigan over its plan to send mail-in voting applications to all voters as a safe solution to casting their ballots during the pandemic. Though Trump claims Michigan’s actions are “illegal” and “without authorization,” he cites no specific law as he furthers the partisan divide over whether mail-in voting should continue to be allowed at all, coronavirus or not.
“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of the Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted in a "breaking news" post. “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!” It is unclear what funding Trump is referring to. And, in a reply to his tweet, he tagged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Office of Budget and Management Director Russ Vought, and the U.S. Treasury.
Trump has also misinterpreted a critical piece of information: Michigan voters were sent ballot applications, not the ballots themselves ahead of the state’s primary and the November general election. “By mailing applications we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in a statement released on May 19. After Trump’s tweet, Benson chimed in on Twitter.
“We sent applications, not ballots,” she wrote including Trump’s original tweet. “Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia.” In her tweet, Benson also pointed out the fact that the "rogue" Secretary of State Trump referred to was unnamed — a move the president has made in past announcements.
Trump has been a staunch critic of mail-in ballots and any state expanding its vote-by-mail access from the get go. Despite voting via absentee ballot himself for the Republican primary in Florida, Trump has referred to the process as “corrupt” claiming it doesn’t work out well for Republicans.
“Mail in ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters,” Trump told reporters in March. Easier access to absentee ballots, Trump suggests, could determine whether the Republicans maintain control over the Senate or gain control over the House. In swing states like Michigan, where Trump only won by a 0.23% margin, mail-in voting could affect his bid for reelection. 
Peddling the idea that voting by mail leads to voter fraud doesn’t make it true. In fact, there is no evidence to support it, nor is there evidence that voting by mail gives one party an advantage over the other. Voting-by-mail options have increased in the past decade which has resulted in small, but equivalent increases in voter turnout. Mail-in ballots are largely supported, according to a Pew Research Center study that reports 70% of people are in favor of anyone being allowed to vote by mail if they want to. Though it is viewed positively, the breakdown of responses still shows a party divide with 87% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans supporting the idea. 
Voting-by-mail isn’t a new practice, either. In the 2016 presidential election, almost 60 million Americans voted by mail. Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah – conduct all-mail elections. A popular theory among Republican voters opposed to mail-in voting is that it leads to fraud and favors Democrats, while Democrats in favor of the practice believe it allows a wider group of people to participate in elections, reports Reuters.
The United States Postal Service plays a crucial role in U.S. elections, now more than ever as mail-in ballots are expected to be in high demand. Trump has been accused of exploiting the current pandemic to push his own agenda. Though Trump signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, which includes a $10 billion loan for the USPS, the Treasury Department has yet to approve it. If Trump’s ongoing battle with the USPS continues, it could prove detrimental to voting rights come November.

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