President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to punish Michigan for mailing absentee ballot applications to all state voters ahead of the election.
“This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
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!..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
On Tuesday, Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced that the state would send ballot applications — not actual absentee ballots — to 7.7 million voters in the state.
“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said in a statement. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
The plan will cost $4.5 million, which the secretary of state said would come from the CARES Act. The act passed by Congress provides funding for Election Security grants.
President Trump has vocally opposed efforts to vote by mail, warning of the potential for serious voter fraud.
“So the problem with the mail-in ballots: It’s subject to tremendous corruption,” Trump said last Tuesday. “Tremendous corruption, cheating. And so I’m against it.”
Prominent Democrats including former President Barack Obama and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton continue to push for vote by mail in November, arguing that it is essential for voter safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Congressional Democrats continue pushing legislation to enact federal vote by mail requirements, but Republicans have successfully blocked them from becoming law.
Recent data has not shown a compelling public health justification for vote-by-mail.
Wisconsin is one of the only U.S. states that held its primary election with in-person voting after the coronavirus lockdown began. Only a few dozen people at maximum were confirmed to have contracted the virus after participating either as voters or poll workers, and none of those cases were fatal.
Out of the 413,000 participants, that equals an infection rate below two-hundredths of one percent. Just days later, South Korea held national elections which did not result in any new coronavirus cases.