President Donald Trump is threatening to "hold up funding to Michigan" if Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sends absentee ballots to all residents ahead of this year's August primary and November election, as he says she plans.
Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
Thing is, that's not what's happening. Benson announced Tuesday she was sending absentee ballot applications to the state's 7.7 million registered voters. Those who send them back get a mail-in ballot, as is customary. Hours later Trump corrected the tweet to say "applications," but he kept the rest of it intact.
In response, to Trump's tweet Wednesday morning, Benson pointed out that three Republican countrerparts took the same step.
Hi! I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. https://t.co/kBsu4nHvOy— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 20, 2020
As states around the country expand absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has sought to undermine the practice to boost his re-election chances, as low voter turnout traditionally benefits the GOP.
“Mail ballots, they cheat,” he said last month. “Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases. They have to vote.”
Trump himself votes by mail.
Still, Benson's move may face a court challenge, even though unsolicited absentee ballot applications were also sent ahead of May 5 local elections.
The Free Press reports:
While Michigan changed its rules two years ago to allow anyone to vote by absentee ballot for any reason — a change which helped increase absentee voting in the March 10 presidential primary from 18% four years ago to 38% this year — it's possible an argument may be made the May 5 election was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order to contain it.
It's not at all clear that, come August or November, the threat may be as pronounced or that Whitmer's orders, which are being challenged in court, will still be in place.
Also, is it possible opponents of such a move could try to use past legal decisions, like a 2008 Michigan Court of Appeals decision involving the Macomb County clerk, that ruled against her sending absentee ballot applications to every voter over the age of 60.
Also listen to Joceylyn Benson on the podcast, The Craig Fahle Show on Deadline Detroit