Trump Threatens to Withhold State Funding Over Mail-In Voting

His latest Twitter meltdown contained several new falsehoods. Surprise!

Michael Brochstein/ZUMA

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President Trump threatened to halt funding in Michigan and Nevada on Wednesday over those states’ pushes to expand mail-in voting in response to the coronavirus—yet another signal that the president views efforts designed to make voting easier as a danger to his reelection bid.

In targeting the two states, Trump promoted several falsehoods: Michigan did not, as the president claimed, send voters absentee ballots; the state mailed out applications for absentee ballots. Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, noted this in her response to Trump’s attack. “We sent applications, not ballots,” Benson wrote on Twitter. “Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia.” 

While Nevada is sending voters absentee ballots, the move pertains only to the state’s primary. Still, Trump falsely characterized both vote-by-mail pushes as illegal, complaining that each would lead to rampant voter fraud. 

It wasn’t immediately clear to what funding Trump was referring, whether it be coronavirus relief, election assistance money, or federal distributions at large. Michigan is currently struggling with catastrophic flooding from a dam failure, which could prompt state officials to seek federal disaster relief funding.

Of course, Trump likely lacks the legal authority to carry out his threats, as such election protocols fall under state jurisdiction. But the tweets appeared to eerily echo Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, who warned during the president’s impeachment that if Trump were not removed from office, he wouldn’t hesitate to withhold federal funding from a state in exchange for political favors. 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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