President Loudmouth On a Barstool was up early this morning, having a fit about states that are trying to do voter fraud by allowing people to vote without risking a deadly infection. He was so angry that he couldn't be bothered to even know what he was complaining about, that's how mad he was at swing states that might hurt his reelection chances by expanding vote by mail. Trump yelled at Michigan, whose secretary of state sent out absentee ballot applications (not ballots, as if Trump knows the difference) to all registered voters, just like Hitler probably did. While he was at it, Trump also insisted that sending the applications was "illegal," because the "president" gets to decide that, read your Constitution.

Trump later deleted the tweet, possibly because Michigan is dealing with massive flooding in the center of the state, caused by two dams breaking. Maybe someone told him threatening to withhold funding from a state in the middle of an actual disaster was a bad look. (Update: Looks like he twote a second version.)

To make sure the proper federal authorities took quick action, he replied to his own tweet with the Twitter addresses of his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Acting OMB director Russ Vought, and the Treasury Department. Because while he thinks voting by mail is an invitation to fraud (it isn't), sending "presidential directives" by tweet is the sort of secure communication he excels at. So let it be tweeted, so let it be done. Or not, since he deleted that one as well. Does that mean he's not going to try holding up funds, or just that he'll have to go on Fox News to transmit the orders?

Trump also declared Nevada's plan to hold its June 9 primaries entirely by mail to be "illegal," and threatened both states with having their funding held up if they insist on doing something he told them not to. He didn't say what funding, just all of it, probably. At least here he has one thing right: Nevada actually is sending absentee ballots to all registered voters, which is also perfectly legal.

Or maybe in Nevada's case, he'll just suspend emergency deliveries of quotation marks to the state. That one's still up at the moment.

All this may sound a little familiar to you, as you may recall from the impeachment hearings, when Stanford law professor Pam Karlin warned of pretty much this very thing:

Imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that's prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for? What would you think if that president said, "I would like you to do us a favor?

Haha, we are very silly — Karlan used the example of states being asked to investigate a political enemy. Not complying with Trump's demand to end voting by mail is totally different.

As NPR and virtually other news organization point out, there are one or two itty-bitty problems with Trump's demand that the states put the kibosh on mail-in ballots: State and local governments are responsible for running their own elections, and there's not really any legal mechanism for a "president" to withhold funding over the matter.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson replied to Trump very nastily by insisting that she, like that other woman from Michigan, has a name, and also Mr. President is full of shit, because lots of Republican states are doing vote-by-mail too.

Just to make it official, Benson retweeted it with a "Robot Chicken" GIF of Boba Fett giving him the finger. We kid! Her office actually followed it up with a very brief statement saying Trump was wrong about what was being sent, and pointing out that

Applications are mailed nearly every election cycle by both major parties and countless advocacy and nonpartisan organizations. Just like them, we have full authority to mail applications to ensure voters know they have the right to vote safely by mail.

But the GIF would still have made a good attachment.

Vox notes that if you want to interpret Trump's talk of withholding funding as anything other than an empty threat (and why would you?), maybe he was talking about the election funding portion of the CARES Act. Michigan received $11.2 million from the stimmy bill, and Nevada got $4.5 million, but as you astute readers may have noticed, the verbs here are both in the past tense, so Trump can't withhold money that's already out the door. Vox does helpfully points out, at least, that in preparing to hold elections in which people won't have to leave their homes to vote, both states are using the funds for their specified purposes. This is very nice, but also assumes Donald Trump has any fucking idea such funds were in the bill he signed.

In the case of Michigan, at least, NPR points out that Trump's condemnation is partially at odds with a point made by GOP chair Ronna McDaniel, who told reporters Monday she has no problems at all with states sending out absentee ballot applications, but that all Republicans rightly oppose sending out absentee ballots to all registered voters without being expressly requested, because what about the fraudings, huh?

The only problem with that view is that five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah) already run nearly all their elections by mail, and they have very clean, efficient elections. As the Brennan Center for Justice explains, all five states have "multiple tools to address valid security concerns and protect election integrity," and as for voter fraud, it's pretty much not a thing.

"[S]tates that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud." Rounded to the seventh decimal point, that's 0.0000001 percent of all votes cast. An exhaustive investigative journalism analysis of all known voter fraud cases identified only 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud from 2000 to 2012. As election law professor Richard L. Hasen notes, during that period "literally billions of votes were cast."

For that matter, even Republicans' cherished belief that mail-in voting gives Democrats an electoral advantage doesn't hold water, as a recent study by Stanford University researchers found:

In examining voter data in three states with staggered rollouts of vote-by-mail programs — California, Utah and Washington — the researchers found that the introduction of mail-in voting did not have an effect, on average, on the share of voter turnout for either Republicans or Democrats.

Researchers also found that expanding vote-by-mail does not appear to increase the vote share for candidates of either political party. Taken together, the researchers say their findings essentially dispel concerns that mail-in voting would cause a major electoral shift toward one party.

"Our paper has a clear takeaway: Claims that vote-by-mail fundamentally advantages one party over the other appear overblown," the researchers stated in their working paper.

Ah, but what about what happens when you make voting easier in places with strict voter suppression measures enacted by Republicans, huh? Those three states probably already had clean, fair elections, so what good is that study? As everyone knows, whenever Republicans are told to stop cheating, they insist Democrats get an unfair advantage, which just proves how important the cheating is to ensure the will of the Republican people is done.

[Vox / NPR / Brennan Center / Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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