Trump threatens to withhold funding from states that make voting safer

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Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan and Nevada in retaliation for expanding access to voting.

Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from two key battleground states in retaliation for their efforts to make voting safer and more convenient during the coronavirus crisis. He also lied about the issue of voter fraud.

"Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "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!"

A few minutes later, he made a similar threat to Nevada.

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"State of Nevada 'thinks' that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S.," Trump wrote. "They can't! If they do, 'I think' I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections."

Trump lied about the actions of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, who announced that absentee ballot applications would be sent to all voters, not actual ballots.

He later issued a new, nearly identical tweet a little after 2 p.m. ET, changing the reference to "absentee ballots" to "absentee ballot applications" but did not acknowledge the error.

Trump's threat was criticized by prominent voting rights lawyer Marc Elias, who tweeted that several Republican secretaries of states are sending absentee voting applications to voters and that Trump "can't hold up funding to prevent people from voting."

There is no evidence that absentee voting, or vote-by-mail, is connected to increased fraud.

"As with all forms of voter fraud, documented instances of fraud related to [voting by mail] are rare," a Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Election Data and Science Lab study found.

In fact, voter fraud remains extraordinarily rare in the United States.

Trump himself voted by mail as recently as March of this year. Trump also voted by mail in New York in 2018.

In addition to Trump, 11 people in his inner circle, including Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's wife and children, have voted by mail in recent elections.

Spreading misinformation about voting "is dangerous to our democracy," Michigan state Rep. Mari Manoogian, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.

Trump narrowly won Michigan in the 2016 election and narrowly lost in Nevada.

This article was updated to note that Trump issued a new tweet about Michigan on Wednesday afternoon.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.