This past spring, President Donald Trump began a full-fledged assault on voting by mail, tweeting, retweeting and railing about massive fraud and rigged elections with scant evidence.
Then the Republican apparatus got to work backing up the president.
In the weeks since, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have taken to the courts dozens of times as part of a $20 million effort to challenge voting rules, including filing their own lawsuits in several battleground states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nevada. And around the time Trump started musing about delaying the election last week, aides and outside advisers began scrambling to ponder possible executive actions he could take to curb mail-in voting — everything from directing the postal service to not deliver certain ballots to stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day.
The actions can only make so much difference before November — elections are mostly run at the state and local level, and are subject to congressional authority. And some fellow Republicans are warning the president privately and publicly that attempts to restrict mail-in ballots could actually hurt the GOP in November, scaring Republicans from voting remotely even if they also refuse to vote in person during a pandemic. New polling has fueled these concerns.
But the flurry of activity is buoying the president in other ways. Namely, it has allowed Trump to present himself as a fighter on an issue that many of his most fervent supporters have taken up in the last few months.
Trump fans, said John Fredericks, a conservative radio host who serves on the Trump campaign’s advisory committee, “think Trump is going to win legitimately, but the Democrats are trying to steal the election by manipulating mail-out ballots. They want the president to jawbone enough so there’s a level of outrage to get rid of these ballots.”
Just because Trump’s claims of rampant mail-in voting fraud aren’t supported by evidence doesn’t mean election experts aren’t concerned about problems holding a presidential election during a pandemic. It’s unknown whether the United States Postal Service can handle a surge of mail-in ballots in a timely fashion, and other officials have cautioned about long lines and a shortage of workers at in-person polling stations, which have been limited during the coronavirus outbreak.
Read the full report from Politico.