Donald Trump and Holocaust deniers target mail-in voting

By on October 30, 2022 0
  • Donald Trump and his Republican allies propose to restrict or even end postal voting
  • GOP candidates propose new laws to curb practice they claim is prone to fraud
  • GOP lawyers have filed dozens of lawsuits against mail-in voting, though there have been no cases of mass fraud
  • Suffrage advocates say Trump and his allies have only one goal: to suppress Democratic votes

WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump and his office-hunting “election deniers” talk about making changes to America’s electoral system, they have at least one specific target in mind.

Postal voting.

Trump, Republican lawyers and GOP politicians seeking offices across the country are offering a variety of proposals to restrict or even eliminate mail-in voting, from lawsuits to legislation, despite its growing popularity with voters and many guarantees against electoral fraud.

“Mail-in ballots appear to be the primary target of Holocaust deniers,” longtime election lawyer Norm Eisen said, and their efforts will only intensify if they are elected to public office next month.

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Their chances of success remain to be seen and will depend in part on the ongoing midterm elections.

Trump and his supporters say mail-in ballots invite cheating, while public interest activists say many Republicans have a more prosaic reason for wanting to hold them back: They’ve tended to favor Democrats during recent elections, in part because Trump has attacked the practice so much that Republicans are discouraged from participating.

Eisen said Trump’s ongoing complaints about mail-in voting had “no basis in fact” and were “another bizarre conspiracy theory.”

State-Level Battles

Trump-backed deniers are targeting mail-in voting in various ways in battleground states, efforts that are expected to continue after the midterm elections.

The most publicized project is in Pennsylvania, where a group of Trump supporters are pushing to repeal a law that allows mail-in voting “without excuses”. The repeal would require voters to provide a reason for voting by mail, such as overseas military deployment or being out of town due to work and therefore reduce the number of mail-in ballots.

In 2020, President Joe Biden defeated Trump in Pennsylvania by some 82,000 votes, a margin covered by mail-in ballots in favor of the Democratic nominee.

Republicans in Pennsylvania and other states say current mail-in voting systems offer multiple opportunities for fraud and injustice. They said people should be required to vote the traditional way: show up at a polling station and submit a ballot.

Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, said in August that he supported “legislation introduced in the Senate to repeal no-excuse mail-in voting (and) warrant signature verification.”

Doug McLinko, Republican commissioner for Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state for no-apology mail-in voting, said one problem with the current system is “chain of custody.”

“Who takes care of this ballot until it comes back to the electoral office?” he said. “You don’t know who is voting on it.”

More state plans

Candidates for governor and secretary of state in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona want to eliminate or at least complicate mail-in voting, but have been less than specific about their plans.

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Trump Republicans have called for the elimination of “drop boxes” that are used for mail-in ballot drop-off. Other proposed rule changes would void mail-in ballots if there are errors on the deposit forms, including misspellings and blank boxes. Other proposals restrict the time frames in which state officials can accept mail-in ballots.

In Pennsylvania, a coalition of Republican groups filed a lawsuit seeking to block the counting of undated mail-in ballots. A coalition of voter rights groups said failure to date forms is “immaterial to voter eligibility” and should not be used “to disenfranchise voters”.

North Carolina is mired in a dispute over whether voters can correct minor errors on their forms so that their mail-in votes are counted. The disputes in Texas involve lawsuits over the number of drop boxes that can be used per county.

A voter receives a sticker after dropping off her absentee ballot in a drop box on the first day of early voting at the main office of the Supervisor of Elections in West Palm Beach, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.

“Many Holocaust deniers now want to restrict the period in which absentee votes can be counted – demanding that all absentee votes be received before or even before Election Day,” said a Brookings Institution report titled “Democracy on the ballot – What do Holocaust deniers want to do?”

Many of these proposals are vague. A political committee calling itself the America First Secretary of State Coalition says it wants to “eliminate mail-in ballots”, but “keep traditional mail-in ballots”. It does not explain how it would work.

Another tactic: pursuits

Meanwhile, Trump supporters have filed dozens of lawsuits over some of the same aspects of mail-in voting.

“Some are challenging the use of drop boxes, while others are attacking signature matching rules, healing procedures and more,” Democratic election attorney Marc Elias wrote on the Democracy Docket website.

Lawsuits against voting by mail have been filed in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Trump’s Impossible Dream

Trump himself, who has wrapped his bogus allegations of voter fraud in 2020 largely around mail-in voting, has made the most extreme proposal to limit mail-in voting: He has repeatedly called for same-day voting. with paper ballots – a proposition that is very unlikely to pass through any legislature or court, regardless of governor or secretary of state.

“We don’t like mail-in ballots,” Trump said last weekend at a rally in Robstown, Texas. “You know what you really want? You want paper ballots and same-day voting with a voter card.

This even though Trump himself often voted by mail.

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Kyle Miller, a policy advocate with the organization Protect Democracy, said it was highly unlikely that Trump and his allies could eliminate mail-in voting; it’s too popular with too many voters.

They can, however, reduce the ease of mail-in voting and reduce its numbers, he said – and their tactics can continue to undermine trust in the electoral system regardless.

Electoral subversion

Public interest organizations have criticized Holocaust deniers throughout the year.

Their biggest concern is what some call “election subversion” – the idea that governors, secretaries of state and lawmakers could seek to reverse the results of the 2024 election if their candidate, presumably Trump, does not win. popular vote in their state.

None of this could happen before the 2024 election, analysts said; meanwhile, attacks from Trump and the Republicans are expected to intensify.

Miller said Trump’s real motive is that Democrats have benefited more from mail-in voting, in part because of Trump’s complaints.

“Republican voters didn’t use him because their leaders told them not to trust him,” Miller said. “They depressed their own turnout.”