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Politics GOP fears Trump attacks on mail-in vote will sabotage turnout

19:50  01 august  2020
19:50  01 august  2020 Source:   thehill.com

Trump is creating an untraditional partisan divide on vote by mail

  Trump is creating an untraditional partisan divide on vote by mail The popularity of voting by mail has exploded during the coronavirus pandemic. In new CNN/SSRS polling from Arizona, Florida and Michigan, you see that at least 40% of voters in each state say they'll vote by mail (or via absentee, a type of voting by mail). A previous Fox News poll found 35% of voters nationally said they would. In 2016, it was 24%. © JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images Election workers sort vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on March 10, 2020. Yet over the past few months, President Donald Trump has crusaded to cast doubt on voting by mail.

Conservatives are growing worried that President Trump's attacks on mail-in voting could suppress the GOP vote as Democrats mobilize to take advantage of expanded voting opportunities while suspicious Republicans gamble on in-person turnout during a pandemic.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: GOP fears Trump attacks on mail-in vote will sabotage turnout © The Hill GOP fears Trump attacks on mail-in vote will sabotage turnout

Scores of states have moved to expand absentee balloting amid the coronavirus outbreak to cut down on crowds and lines, hastening a recent trend toward mail-in voting, which has grown more common and more popular in recent years.

Pelosi: Trump trying 'to suppress the vote' with attacks on mail-in ballots

  Pelosi: Trump trying 'to suppress the vote' with attacks on mail-in ballots Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday that President Trump's attacks on voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic and his suggestion to postpone the November election are part of an effort to sow confusion and suppress voter turnout."The reason he does it is because the more people hear something like that, the more they're discouraged to vote," Pelosi said during an interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar. "It's a way to suppress the"The reason he does it is because the more people hear something like that, the more they're discouraged to vote," Pelosi said during an interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar. "It's a way to suppress the vote.

Trump has resisted the move, saying Democrats have an advantage in high-turnout elections and making unsubstantiated claims about widespread fraud in mail-in voting, including on Thursday when he raised the idea of delaying the election "until people can properly, securely and safely vote."

Polls show that Trump's attacks have undermined GOP confidence in mail-in voting, which otherwise has overwhelming support among Democrats and independents.

Some Republicans are urging GOP leaders to abandon the attacks on mail-in voting and to instead embrace it, saying that greater access to absentee ballots is a foregone conclusion this year and warning that the president is effectively sabotaging his own party by refusing to buy into that new reality.

Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power'

  Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) on Monday blasted President Trump's repeated attacks on mail-in voting, accusing him of deliberately sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service."Trump put Postmaster DeJoy in charge of the postal service to dismantle the USPS & sabotage vote by mail. New procedures are causing massive delays," Waters tweeted."Trump & Repubs don't believe in free & fair elections. They'll lie,"Trump put Postmaster DeJoy in charge of the postal service to dismantle the USPS & sabotage vote by mail. New procedures are causing massive delays," Waters tweeted.

The impact could be particularly pronounced in Florida, a battleground state where Republicans have traditionally outpaced Democrats among absentee voters. It's also the preferred method of voting for many seniors, who broke for Trump in 2016.

"The fact that you have so-called party leaders parroting Trump's BS on vote by mail is basically putting a knife to their own electoral throats," said former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

A Trump campaign aide told The Hill that the campaign is working to maximize turnout by ensuring voters know the rules in their states, whether it's for mail-in voting, absentee voting, early voting or in-person voting on Election Day.

Matthew Morgan, the general counsel for the Trump campaign, drew a distinction between states that allow absentee voting and the five states - Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington - that now conduct their elections entirely by mail.

Trump reverses, encourages vote by mail — in Florida

  Trump reverses, encourages vote by mail — in Florida President Trump on Tuesday encouraged voters in Florida to vote by mail, saying the state's election system is "safe and secure" after weeks of assailing efforts to expand mail-in voting by claiming that it would invite large-scale fraud.The remarks are a reversal for Trump, who has repeatedly suggested that increased mail-in voting could lead to voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence that mailed-in ballots lead to criminal activity. Republicans have grown worried that Trump's attacks on mail-in voting could actually suppress the GOP vote in the upcoming election.

"If a voter can't make it to the polls, they can request an absentee ballot - but universal vote by mail opens the door to chaos and fraud," Morgan said. "States should be - and many already are - working to ensure polling locations can be safely open and operating on and before Election Day, and we encourage voters across America to take advantage of both of those in-person options."

Trump's broadsides against mail-in voting have often conflated absentee and universal mail voting or exaggerated the potential for fraud.

The president this week created an uproar in Washington, saying that mail-in voting would lead to "the most inaccurate and fraudulent" election in history when he questioned whether the vote should be delayed.

Trump also claimed that "hundreds of millions" of mail ballots were being sent out across the country, which is not accurate. In most cases, states have merely made it easier to request absentee ballots.

Republican election experts share some of the president's concerns.

Most experts oppose the practice of ballot "harvesting," where political groups collect mail ballots directly from voters and send them in bulk to be counted. The practice is legal only in California.

Trump Encourages Use of Mail-In Ballots in Florida in Stark Reversal

  Trump Encourages Use of Mail-In Ballots in Florida in Stark Reversal At least 42 states as well as the District of Columbia will allow voters to vote using absentee ballots without providing a justification. More on National ReviewKris Kobach Is an Incompetent Loser Who Loses, and That Is Why Democrats Want HimTo Curb Polarization, Everyone Must Accept a Possibility of Temporary LossNo, Susan Collins Is Not a Trumpist Stooge

And many are concerned that the crush of mail-in voting will be an administrative nightmare that could lead to a weeks-long delay in getting the final results in November. New York state, for example, has yet to complete the count for several primary races that took place on June 23.

"I think concerns about ballot harvesting practices are fair and legitimate," said Chris Ashby, a Republican elections lawyer. "I'm also very concerned about the ability of the postal service to handle the volume of mail ballots, of local election officials to process them timely and transparently, and of partisans and the public to wait patiently while that happens in the days and weeks after Election Day."

But Ashby also said that "the national tide has clearly turned in favor of expanding opportunities to vote."

"National Republicans should stop trying to beat back the tide and start harnessing it," he said. "Experience in Florida, for example, shows that Republicans can win mail ballots. But that's not going to happen if the GOP spends all its time fighting vote by mail and casting doubt on it. In both the short and long terms, all those resources and efforts would be better spent trying to win mail-in votes."

The R Street Institute, a think tank dedicated to free markets and limited government, recently released a study titled "Why conservatives should embrace sensible measures to expand absentee balloting."

Trump encourages mail voting in key battleground Florida

  Trump encourages mail voting in key battleground Florida WASHINGTON (AP) — In an abrupt reversal, President Donald Trump now is encouraging voters in the critical swing state of Florida to vote by mail after months of criticizing the practice, and only days after threatening to sue Nevada over a new vote-by-mail law. His encouragement follows a surge in Democratic requests to vote for mail in Florida. Democrats currently have about 1.9 million Floridians signed up to vote by mail this November, almost 600,000 more than the Republicans’ 1.3 million, according to the Florida Secretary of State. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

The study cast doubt on claims that Democrats benefit from expanded mail-in voting, pointing to three states Trump carried in 2016 - Utah, Arizona and Montana - where about 70 percent of voters cast ballots through the mail.

The R Street Institute noted that former Republican Sen. Gordon Smith was elected in Oregon after the state moved to an all-mail model. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner was elected in Colorado after the state expanded absentee balloting. This year, Republican Mike Garcia flipped a House seat held by Democrats in California in a mostly mail-in election.

The study found instances of fraud to be almost nonexistent in states that use all-mail balloting. Mail balloting is cheaper, favored by older voters and growing in popularity, the study found.

The authors pointed to GOP governors in Nebraska, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, New Hampshire and Alaska that have recently advocated for its expansion.

"To support expanded voting by mail is an imperative of conservative ideals," the authors wrote. "And, for this reason, it is not surprising that even as pundits and special interests have spent recent months conjuring visions of electoral doom, conservative policymakers with actual governing responsibilities have moved forward with expanding access to absentee ballots."

Mac Stipanovich, a longtime GOP operative in Florida and a key figure in the 2000 recount, said that Democrats have returned 100,000 more absentee ballots than Republicans ahead of next week's state House and Senate primary elections.

"That's very unusual in Florida," Stipanovich said. "Back when I started, Republicans had the advantage by contacting voters and urging them to mail in their absentee ballots. That was always an ace in the hole. Apparently, that's no longer the case, and I think that will harm Republicans."

The latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey found that 70 percent of voters support a mail-in option. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents support mail-in voting, but Republicans are split 50-50.

Still, polling director Mark Penn said Trump's warnings about widespread voter fraud could energize his base. He noted that Democrats are similarly warning about GOP voter suppression tactics to energize their supporters.

"The more Republican voters think the election is questionable the more they will turn out, just as Democrats have also used a similar strategy," Penn said. "Both parties are now using the same kind of fear of fair voting messages to stimulate their votes."

Snapchat introduces voting resources to boost youth turnout .
Snapchat wants to use its influence with young people to help drive higher turnout in the upcoming elections. To do that, the company is introducing a new set of educational tools meant to help users prepare to vote. The new features include voter registration tools and informational guides about the upcoming elections. The app will also provide details on how to vote by mail and ballot information. The updates are slated to roll out in September, and will have a permanent presence in the app, according to a Snap spokesperson. As part of that effort, the app will also begin prompting users to register to vote on their 18th birthday.

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