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Voter Suppression in the Time of Corona

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 20, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | May 20, 2020 |


Over the course of the day, Donald Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding to two states, Nevada and Michigan, for making voting by mail easier. In both cases, he has mischaracterized the states’ decision to mail out applications for mail-in ballots as illegal.

The Scoop: The applications only go out to registered voters, giving them the option to vote by mail, a safer alternative during a pandemic. When many voters were forced to vote in person in Wisconsin last month, it resulted in a spike of infections among those who had to stand in line or work the polls.

The Bottom Line: This is not about voting by mail. Donald Trump voted by mail. This is about supressing the vote.

Donald Trump has voiced fears that he believes that making it easier for voters to cast ballots would work against him and the Republican party. That is undoubtedly the case during a normal election when voters in cities — who vote more often for Democrats — must stand in longer lines and face other challenges to cast their ballots. It does not, however, necessarily follow in a pandemic. The Democrats won a heavily contested judge’s race in Wisconsin, for instance, when voters were forced to leave their homes, while in California, Republicans took back a Democrat’s seat in a mail-in election last week.

What Does It Mean? — Nothing, probably. It’s highly unlikely that Trump can actually withhold federal funding without Congressional approval, and good luck winning in Michigan — a key swing state — if Trump decides to go that route. Trump, however, will make the political lives of governors in Nevada and Michigan even more miserable than they already may be. It also sends a warning to governors in other states who are considering making access to mail-in ballots easier. However, even in Republican-controlled states, governors and secretaries of state may face considerable pressure to make voting by mail easily accessible to everyone.

Unrelated: The Lincoln Project — a group of Never Trump Republicans like George Conway — put out this ad, brilliantly trying to get Trump to fire his own campaign manager. It just might work.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: Getty Images