Donald Trump Hints At Withholding Funds From Nevada If It Sends Out ‘Illegal’ Vote-By-Mail Ballots

'Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections,' he wrote.

Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with his cabinet in the East Room of the White House.
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'Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections,' he wrote.

President Donald Trump seemingly tweeted a threat to the state of Nevada on Thursday morning, writing he would withhold federal funds from them if they expand their voting by mail program.

“State of Nevada ‘thinks’ that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections.”

As Carson Now reported, The Silver State is encouraging voters to take advantage of voting by mail in order to avoid having to physically go to polling locations on Election Day, thus putting election workers — and other voters — at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“Nevadans are being encouraged to vote by mail this primary election for the health and safety of voters and poll workers. The mail-in ballot is a safe, secure and valid process to ensure that your vote is counted,” Wayne Thorley, deputy secretary of state for elections, said.

Indeed, so bullish are Nevada election officials on voting by mail that officials plan to send a vote-by-mail ballot to every registered voter, as well as to registered inactive voters in Clark County, its most populous.

PROVO, UT - November 6: A employee at the Utah County Election office puts mail in ballots into a container to register the vote in the midterm elections on November 6, 2018 in Provo, Utah. Utah early voting has been the highest ever in Utah's midterm elections. One of the main proportions on the ballot in Utah is whether Utah will legalize medical marijuana. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
  George Frey / Getty Images

Is Voting By Mail Legal?

As the National Conference of State Legislatures explains, all 50 states allow voting by mail, with varying procedures. For example, in some states, any voter can get an absentee (vote-by-mail) ballot simply by asking. In others, the voter must provide a valid excuse (for example, they’ll be out of state on Election Day). In still others, every voter is sent a mail ballot by default.

Why Is This An Issue Now?

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to wreak havoc on elections, due to the fact that, traditionally, voting brings people together into tight quarters when casting their ballots, which could allow the virus to spread more easily.

This was evident earlier this year in Wisconsin. On April 7, the Midwestern state held its primary election, even as the coronavirus pandemic was in full force. The state’s governor, Tony Evers, a Democrat, attempted to order the election to be carried out strictly by mail, a plan that was rejected by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. A judge later extended the state’s deadline for voting by mail, a decision that was eventually overturned by the state’s Supreme Court.

The outcome of the pre-election maneuvering was twofold. First, it resulted in long lines at the polls, as thousands of voters were forced to vote in a handful of polling places that remained open, as The Inquisitr reported at the time. Secondly, it shone a light on Republicans’ general antipathy to voting by mail.

What Do Trump And Republicans Have Against Voting By Mail?

As NPR News reports, Republicans in general — and Trump specifically — have expressed concerns that voting by mail opens up the election process to fraud. The president has even gone so far as to say that voting by mail could allow Democrats to “steal” the election.

Does Trump Have The Power To Withhold Federal Funds From Specific States?

He does not. As legal-aid clearinghouse Onecle explained, prior to the Nixon administration, the president had the power of impoundment — that is, not spending money that had been appropriated by Congress. However, that power was removed following Nixon’s presidency. Now, any withholding of approved federal funds has to be approved by Congress. Over the past few decades, Congress has largely refused to act on presidential impoundment requests.