KEY POINTS

  • Nevada's secretary of state mailed ballots to all registered voters for the June 9 primary
  • Michigan's secretary of state mailed applications for absentee ballots for the state's Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general election
  • Trump has said expanded absentee balloting would hurt Republican prospects

President Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding from at least two states that moved to expand vote-by-mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a prescription for vote fraud. The threats came one day after a federal judge in Texas ruled that state’s restrictions on voting by mail unconstitutional.

In a pair of tweets, Trump, who recently voted absentee himself, threatened to withhold federal funds from Nevada and Michigan, calling vote-by-mail “illegal” and “rogue,” and admonishing, “You must not cheat in elections.”

Nevada’s secretary of state decided to move to an all-mail vote for the state’s June 9 primary, with ballots mailed to all registered voters before May 16. Ballots will need to be postmarked by primary day, and voters who have not registered either online or by mail before May 21 would be able to vote in person.

Michigan has not yet declared an all-mail election but Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent applications for absentee ballots to the state’s 7.7 million registered voters so they can decide whether they feel comfortable voting in person for the Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general election amid the pandemic.

Michigan was a key swing state in the 2016 presidential election, and Trump is fighting hard to retain it. No polls have been released recently updating how he would fare in a matchup against Democrat Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. In an answering tweet, Benson noted secretaries of state in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia also have sent out applications.

Trump has said he thinks vote-by-mail would disadvantage Republicans.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in Austin declared fear of contracting coronavirus can be considered a disability under Texas’ mail-in ballot law. He said voters should have the option of “voting by letter carriers versus voting with disease carriers,” and accused state Attorney General Ken Paxton of voter intimidation by threatening to prosecute local officials who advocate for voting by mail.

“Any eligible Texas voter who seeks to vote by mail in order to avoid transmission of COVID-19 can apply for, receive, and cast an absentee ballot in upcoming elections during the pendency of pandemic circumstances,” Biery wrote.

A Columbia University study indicates there’s little evidence of vote fraud in the United States, with most such claims attributable to “false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.”

Trump claimed after the 2016 presidential election he would have won the popular vote – Democrat Hillary Clinton had 3 million more votes than he did – had it not been for vote fraud. But a Heritage Foundation database indicates vote fraud is bipartisan.

Five states currently conduct all elections by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. Nearly two dozen other states conduct mail in balloting for lesser elections like school board. A 2016 study of Colorado elections indicated that state saved 40% on election costs.