Donald Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to accuse the Michigan secretary of state of voter fraud. The president also said he would look at “withholding funding” to the state if it went ahead with its absentee ballot plans.
“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!”
The tweet indicates Trump misunderstood reports from earlier in the week about how Michigan is handling voting during the coronavirus outbreak. As Tal Axelrod of The Hill reported, the state plans on sending all 7.7 million residents absentee ballot applications.
The applications are not ballots themselves. While Trump claims this is obvious voter fraud, other states — including California — have also announced plans to allow absentee ballot voting this fall.
The idea behind mail-in ballots is to avoid large crowds at polling places in November. Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, issued a statement on Tuesday explaining the decision.
“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” the statement read in part. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
Benson also cited more than 50 local elections that took place in the state earlier this year that saw a spike in voter turnout. She said a majority of votes cast were by mail.
Axelrod pointed out Republicans have said mail-in ballots are susceptible to voter fraud. Trump has parroted those concerns, despite voting via an absentee ballot in local Florida elections.
Earlier this year, Trump changed his official residence from New York to Florida. Despite admitting he voted by mail, he has said he doesn’t believe it should be a widespread practice.
Michigan is planning on sending the absentee ballot applications for both the state’s partisan primary elections in August and the general in November. Once someone receives the application, they still need to fill it out and send it back to get an actual ballot.
Despite claims by Trump and other Republicans that absentee voting is more susceptible to voter fraud, Axelrod said there isn’t any evidence to back up those assertions. It’s also not clear as of this writing what legal standing the president believes he has that would allow him to “withhold funding” from Michigan.