May 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump threatens funding for Nevada and Michigan over mail-in voting expansion

presiden donald trump with his mouth open
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Wednesday tweets to "hold up" unspecified funding to Michigan and Nevada after both states rolled out plans to expand voting-by-mail options amid the coronavirus pandemic. He appeared to be walk back the threat in a press availability later in the day.

The state of play: The White House did not provide any specifics to Axios on what kind of funding could be cut — and it's unclear whether the president has the power to alter or withhold any appropriated funds to states without congressional approval.

  • Trump has been a vocal opponent of expanded mail-in voting, claiming without evidence that it leads to fraud and "doesn't work out well for Republicans." In today's tweets, he argued that the two states' decisions could amount to "voter fraud" and "[cheating] in elections."
  • The president also tagged his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Treasury and budget officials in the tweets.
  • Worth noting: Last week's special House election in California was held primarily by mail — and was the first time a Republican flipped a Democratic seat in the state since 1998.

What's happening: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced this week that the state would send absentee voter applications to every voter by mail — not ballots, as Trump claimed. She also pointed out that several Republican-led states offered the same option.

  • Nevada is holding an all-mail primary election on June 9 by mailing all active voters absentee ballots. Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who spearheaded the plan, is the sole statewide elected Republican in the state.

The big picture: States around the country have opted to expand voting-by-mail or the use of absentee ballots so voters don't have to risk their health by voting in-person.

  • A new study found that Wisconsin counties which had higher numbers of in-person voting per voting location during its primary earlier this year had a higher rate of positive COVID-19 tests two to three weeks after the election compared to counties with relatively fewer in-person voters.

Go deeper: Coronavirus spikes vote-by-mail counts in Virginia municipal elections

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