Trump Backs Mail Voting In Florida Battleground
In an abrupt reversal, President Donald Trump now is encouraging voters in the critical swing state of Florida to vote by mail after months of criticizing the practice, and only days after threatening to sue Nevada over a new vote-by-mail law.
His encouragement follows a surge in Democratic requests to vote for mail in Florida. Democrats currently have about 1.9 million Floridians signed up to vote by mail this November, almost 600,000 more than the Republicans' 1.3 million, according to the Florida Secretary of State.
In 2016, both sides had about 1.3 million signed up before the general election.
The president touted Florida's procedures during an afternoon press conference after tweeting about it earlier Tuesday.
"Over a long period of time, they've been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally," the president told reporters.
"But Florida is different from other states," he said.
Most election officials say there is little effective difference between absentee voting and voting by mail.
More voters during this year's primary elections opted to vote by mail, and several states relaxed restrictions for voting absentee through the mail. Trump himself voted by mail in the Florida primary earlier this year.
Five states have relied on mail-in ballots since even before the coronavirus pandemic raised concerns about voting in person, but there is no evidence to support Trump's assertion that voting by mail leads to widespread fraud.
States that use mail-in votes exclusively say they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure that a hostile foreign actor doesn't disrupt the vote. Election security experts say voter fraud is rare in all forms of balloting, including by mail.
With Florida's large retirement population, voting by mail is expected to become a more popular option this November. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was asked Saturday if he had concerns about the option. "No, I'm not concerned about mail-in voting in Florida," he said tersely.
Nevada lawmakers have recently passed a bill that would add the state to a growing list of U.S. states mailing active voters ballots ahead of the November election.
"In the case of Nevada, they're going to be voting in a matter of weeks," Trump said. "And you can't do that. I can't imagine the post office could do it," he said.
The bill, which was passed Sunday, was signed into law Monday by Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat. Nevada joins seven states that plan on automatically sending voters mail ballots, including California and Vermont, which moved earlier this summer to adopt automatic mail ballot policies.
Trump called the bill's passage "an illegal late night coup" in a tweet Monday morning. He accused Sisolak of exploiting COVID-19 to ensure votes in Nevada would favor Democrats.