Trump Attacks Nevada Mail-In Voting as ‘Coup,’ Threatens Court Action
The president’s attack on the Nevada mail-in voting initiative elevates the state’s position as a strong predictor of the presidential victor, having only chosen two losers in over the past 100 years.
President Donald Trump has renewed his campaign against absentee by attacking a Nevada mail-in voting initiative. The measure was passed by the state legislature on Sunday and will likely be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Stephen Sisolak, POLITICO reported.
Trump’s aversion to absentee ballots is not new, but his tweet on Monday laid bare the reasoning for it.
“In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state. Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation,” Trump tweeted. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”
Trump’s attack on Nevada mail-in voting followed tweets by Trump on Thursday that called for postponing the Nov. 3 election.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
While the president called absentee voting “good” as opposed to universal mail-in voting, the two are functionally the same. Ballots are secured and tallied in the same manner, the only difference being the terminology. Absentee voting could be narrowly defined as a ballot process for voters who are unable to vote in-person and request absentee ballots in advance, whereas universal mail-in voting, like the measure Nevada is pursuing, is available for all voters.
Semantic differences aside, to rail against one form of vote-by-mail as a contributor to fraud would therefore be to attack the other. Furthermore, no study nor even Attorney General William Barr have provided evidence of rampant abuse or fraud in mail-in ballots.
Trump’s Staff Sides With Him Over Fraud Claims
Trump followed up his assertion that absentee voting is good with another tweet on Thursday. Although he has yet to clarify his remarks, either by making a distinction between the two or by acknowledging they are functional equivalents, his staff did declare that the election will not be delayed, Reuters reported.
“We’re going to hold an election on November 3 and the president is going to win,” Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said during a CBS ‘Face the Nation’ interview on Sunday.
Meadows did, however, question the legitimacy of elections conducted entirely by mail as he defended Trump’s stance.
“It is responsible for him to say that if we try to go to 100% universal mail-in ballots, will we have an election result on November 3?” Meadows asked. “Now I would suggest we wouldn’t even have it on January 1.”
Party Swimming Upstream
As Trump continues to attack expanded voting measures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republican Party is starting to envision a scenario where the president’s tactic backfires. As Josh Dawsey wrote for The Washington Post, by targeting the legitimacy of mail balloting, Trump is possibly convincing Republican voters to refuse to make use of it.
Surveys indicate Democrats hold more favorable opinions of voting-by-mail than Republicans, which makes it difficult for the GOP to convince its voters to commit to mailing their ballots. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill also faced the added challenge of explaining the difference, or lack of, between absentee ballots and mail ballots..
“They were confused about two different kinds of mail-in balloting,” Merrill said, “where one is ‘good’ and one is not.”
The Trump campaign, however, believes its messaging is perfectly understandable.
“President Trump was quite clear that universal mail-in voting, as Democrats are pushing, is ripe for fraud, while normal absentee voting by mail is completely different,” said campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “There’s a vast difference between voting absentee for people who can’t get to the polls on Election Day versus mailing every registered voter a ballot, even those who didn’t request one.”
Even so, Republicans are buying into the president’s message that voting-by-mail leads to election fraud. A poll from Monmouth University concluded 60% of Georgia Democrats are “at least somewhat likely” to use mail ballots compared with 28% of their Republican counterparts.
Critical Battleground State
The president’s attack on the Nevada mail-in voting initiative elevates the state’s position as a battleground state. Historically, Nevada has voted for 19 Republicans and 19 Democrats since it gained statehood in 1864. Minus Hillary Clinton, the state has most recently voted for the national winner going back to the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan.
In this respect, Nevada is a strong predictor of the presidential victor, having only chosen two losers in over the past 100 years. Election tracker FiveThirtyEight currently calculates Biden as the leader for Nevada with 47.3% compared to Trump’s 40.8%, by aggregating polling data.