President Donald Trump on Wednesday escalated his assault against mail voting, falsely claiming that Michigan and Nevada were engaged in voter fraud and had acted illegally, and threatening to withhold federal funds to those states if they proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts, The New York Times reported.
Trump inaccurately accused Michigan of sending mail ballots to its residents, as his aides later acknowledged, and he offered no basis for his claims of illegal actions by either Michigan or Nevada.
The Michigan secretary of state has sent ballot applications — not the ballots themselves — to registered voters, a growing practice among election officials, including in states led by Republicans. In Nevada, where the Republican secretary of state declared the primary a nearly all-mail election, ballots are being sent to registered voters.
As most states largely abandon in-person voting because of health concerns over the coronavirus, Mr. Trump and many of his Republican allies have launched a series of false attacks to demonize mail voting as fraught with fraud and delivering an inherent advantage to Democratic candidates — despite there being scant evidence for either claim.
By day’s end Trump had corrected his tweet about Michigan, saying officials there had mailed applications, not ballots, though he continued to assert the secretary of state had acted illegally. He also backed off his threat to hold back funding, saying Michigan would find out “very soon if it’s necessary,” according to a pool report from the White House. “I don’t think it’s going to be necessary.”
Trump has often made threats about cutting off funding to states but has not always followed through. Aides compared his Wednesday morning tweets to previous attempts to withhold federal funds to sanctuary cities.