Tuesday, April 7, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He called mail-in voting, which he did last month, "corrupt."

Trump is on record as thinking that if more Americans are able to vote by mail, it will hurt Republican candidates. He said last month that "if you ever agreed to [mail-in voting] you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Today, Trump was asked about a Wisconsin statewide judicial election in which tens of thousands of mail-in ballots were disqualified through no fault of the voters who requested them, because concerns about crowded public polling places overwhelmed the system for supplying absentee ballots. The resulting disaster forcing hundreds of thousands of voters in the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee to crowd into five polling places today. Trump used the occasion to declare that he thought mail-in voting, which would have avoided the problem of endangering voters, was "corrupt."

Trump cast a "corrupt" mail-in ballot himself in the recent Florida primary.

Q: You were highly critical of mail-in voting, mail-in ballots. 
TRUMP: I think it's horrible. It's corrupt. 
Q: But you voted by mail In Florida's election last month— 
TRUMP:—Sure I can vote by mail. Because I’m allowed to. 
Q: How do you reconcile that? 
TRUMP: That's called out of state. You know why I voted? I happen to be in the White House and I can't go to Florida to vote.

Trump is almost certainly wrong about how mail-in voting would affect his party's chances. Utah switched to mail-in voting in 2016. It increased turnout by 9%, but that worked against the only Democrat in their Congressional delegation, who was defeated by a Republican challenger. 

However, Trump may be right that keeping voters away from ballots is his best chance personally. Even after a "rally 'round the flag" effect because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump is still losing badly in head-to-head polls against the likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden—including in his adopted home state of Florida

Why does this matter?

  • The right to vote is more important than Donald Trump's need to be re-elected.
  • Americans shouldn't have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote.
  • Making it hard for opponents of the leader to vote is what dictators do.