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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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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