President Trump accused Nevada lawmakers of an “illegal late night coup” on Monday after they passed legislation to make it easier to vote in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump ranted that they are “using Covid to steal the state,” before threatening a lawsuit. The attacks are Trump’s latest false and dangerous claims that the election is being rigged against him, sowing chaos and distrust of the 2020 election results.
Trump was responding to a Sunday vote by the Nevada Legislature that made it easier to vote in person and by mail in the state heading into November’s elections. The legislation, which is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, will make the state send mail ballots to every registered voter and guarantee a minimum number of early voting and Election-Day voting sites for those who want to vote in person. It also allows organizations to collect sealed ballots to return them, and makes it easier for voters to clear up any claims that their signature on their ballot doesn’t match what’s on file, among other changes.
Trump’s tweet threatened a court challenge to the legislation. It’s unclear what effective legal argument he can make against the vote expansion, but he and the Republican National Committee are spending roughly $20 million on litigation to make it harder to vote this election.
Trump’s tweet is just his latest attack on mail voting, a safe option used by many states for years that’s become increasingly necessary in the face of the pandemic. He even threatened last week to try to postpone the election — and met with a huge backlash.
Mail-in voting has its problems — including higher risks of voter disenfranchisement and slightly higher risk of fraud — but voting rights advocates see it as a crucial option for people to be able to vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic. It also takes a lot longer to count mail votes, something that’s not an actual problem but gives Trump a chance to attack the process and claim the vote is being rigged against him if things aren’t going his way.
Republicans deride it as “ballot harvesting” and claim it can lead to widespread fraud. There have been isolated incidents of mail vote fraud, but it’s exceedingly rare, and the requirement that ballots be sealed makes it even less likely.
The bigger issue is that Trump is priming his voters to believe the election will be stolen from him because of mail voting. Mail voting usually is used in roughly equal numbers by Democrats and Republicans, but because of Trump’s sustained attacks, polls show a lot more Democrats than Republicans are planning to vote by mail this election.
This is far from the first time Trump has admitted the real reason he opposes mail voting. While there’s been no historic advantage for Democrats, back in March Trump claimed “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again” if the country allowed universal mail-in voting.
Trump did this in past elections too — in 2016 when he thought he was losing he attacked early voting, and in 2018, when an Arizona Senate race favored the Republican on Election Day but swung to the Democrat, he once again claimed voter fraud and called for an election redo.
But since so many more states are likely to use mail voting in high numbers, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, the 2020 election could take days or weeks to be called — and Democrats could see a big jump in their numbers during this period. Trump is preparing to claim the election is being stolen from him, and sow chaos in the process.
Cover: Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2020 8/1/20 Trump to ban TikTok through executive action as soon as Today. STAR MAX File Photo: 1/11/17 President-Elect Donald Trump holds his first press conference since the 2016 election in New York City.