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June 19, 2020, 6:55 p.m. EDT

Trump identifies the biggest threat to his re-election: mail-in votes

Republicans have mounted a multimillion-dollar legal campaign to fight the expansion of voting by mail, even with the U.S. still in the throes of the initial wave of a pandemic and a second wave long forecast for the autumn

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By Associated Press

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In Michigan, the state’s Democratic secretary of state has already sent absentee-ballot requests to all voters.

Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill to prevent that state’s secretary of state, also a Republican, from sending all voters an absentee request — as he did for this month’s primary — without approval of a legislative committee.

Trump slammed Michigan’s move, and his party has taken notice. In Iowa, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill to prevent that state’s secretary of state, also a Republican, from sending all voters an absentee request — as he did for this month’s primary — without approval of a legislative committee. The legislature also passed a bill making it harder for county elections officials to correct minor errors on mail ballots. It’s unclear whether the state’s Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, will sign the bills.

In California, in response to GOP litigation challenging Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to send every voter a mail ballot, the Democratic-controlled state legislature is formally approving that program. “Expanding vote-by-mail statewide is a necessity to protect our right to vote and our public health,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, said.

In states with divided government, the action has been less dramatic. In North Carolina, a compromise bill passed the GOP-controlled legislature last week that would reduce from two to one the number of witnesses required to sign a voter’s request for a mail ballot. The legislation, signed by Democratic Gov. Rory Cooper, also allows voters to request absentee ballots online or via fax.

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state’s office is also developing an online system where voters can request absentee ballots as it opts not to send out absentee ballot applications ahead of the November election after doing so for the state’s primary, prompting criticism from Democrats.

See: Trump, Republicans resist calls for widespread use of mail-in ballots as coronavirus pandemic persists

Plus: Biden supports nationwide voting by mail, calls Trump’s opposition ‘un-American’

State election officials said the high cost of sending applications during the primary to 6.9 million registered voters plus the massive workload it triggered for local election offices caused them to rethink their plan for November.

“We are not scaling back our efforts,” said Gabe Sterling, a top official in the Georgia secretary of state’s office. “We are refining our efforts so it can actually be successful with the resources we have available to us.”

Democrats in Congress are pushing to send $3.6 billion to states to help them revamp voting systems. Republicans have yet to act on the measure, contained in a Democratic bill that includes sweeping mandates on voting procedures that are considered a nonstarter in the GOP-controlled Senate.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that stopped short of the demands of county election officials, who had sought a longer early-voting period and flexibility in consolidating polling places to address a poll-worker shortage.

Instead, DeSantis’s order would close schools on Election Day so they can serve as polling locations, state employees would receive administrative leave to staff precincts and more time would be allowed to count absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Capitol Report: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany backs Trump’s assault on mail-in voting — and she’s been voting that way for a decade

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