Wednesday, May 20, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He threatened to punish states for helping their citizens to vote in November.

Today, a seemingly furious Trump lashed out at swing states Nevada and Michigan, threatening to somehow block federal funds to them for helping voters vote by mail.

It's not illegal to vote by mail. It's not illegal in Michigan for the government to send applications, or in Nevada to send ballots to registered voters. Trump himself voted by mail in 2018.

As Jocelyn Benton (Michigan's "rogue" Secretary of State) pointed out, many states are moving to help voters avoid COVID-19 risk in November by making it easier to vote by mail. But many of those are states with Republican secretaries of state where Trump is more likely to win.

Trump has made no secret of the fact that he believes—probably incorrectly—that when more citizens are able to vote, Republicans do worse. 

Trump refused to say exactly what funds he would try to withhold to punish Michigan and Nevada, although a president who actually wanted to punish a particular state for voting in ways he didn't like could do an enormous amount of damage. Even the threat of doing so is illegal. 

Why should I care about this?

  • Undermining Americans' faith in their elections is exactly what enemies of the United States are trying to accomplish.
  • Making sure that only supporters can vote in elections is what dictators do.
  • Threatening governments for not helping his re-election campaign is what got him impeached.
  • Voters (including millions of Republicans in those states) might not like being punished for voting.