US President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding to Michigan following a decision by state officials to send absentee ballot applications for the August primaries and November general election to registered voters.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that Michigan was sending “absentee ballots” to 7.7 million people, saying that the move was made “illegally and without authorization” by Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who he said had gone “rogue.” He added that he would ask “to hold up funding to Michigan.”
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
Yet, Trump may have jumped the gun on the threat to withhold the battleground state’s funding, however, as only applications for ballots are being sent to voters — not the ballots themselves, as he tweeted.
In a recent statement, Benson said the mailing of applications is an effort to ensure voters can cast their ballots if the threat from the Covid-19 virus persists and so that no person “has to choose between their health and their right to vote.”
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Republicans have pushed back against the decision, however, claiming mail voting is more susceptible to fraud. In his Wednesday tweet, Trump also likened the move to send applications to “voter fraud.” Democrats claim, meanwhile, that Trump and his party are using exaggerated claims of fraud to fight against mail-in voting in order to suppress turnout to improve their chances in November.
The president tweeted in April that Republicans should “fight very hard” against mail-in voting and warned against the “tremendous potential” for fraud — though he himself voted by absentee ballot in March’s Florida primary and in New York for the 2018 midterm elections.
A judge in Texas ruled this week that the ballot application forms were allowed to be sent out to voters, saying that fear and anxiety around the Covid-19 pandemic “will limit citizens’ rights to cast their votes in person.”
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