President Donald Trump has come out sharply against efforts to expand mail-in voting options as a COVID-19 safety precaution, claiming baselessly that it will promote widespread fraud and Democrats will use it to steal the election. In reality, absentee ballot fraud exists but is vanishingly rare, and there is no partisan advantage to mail-in ballots — historically, both parties have used the method equally.
Or at least, they have until now. According to the Washington Examiner, the president's crusade against mail-in voting could be blowing up in his face in a big way.
"Mounting evidence in voter registration data, a survey, and organizer anecdotes shows that instead of preventing the voting method from being a major factor in the November election, his stance is turning Republican voters off from using the method entirely, which could have the effect of depressing Republican votes," reported Emily Larsen.
"[In] Pennsylvania ... as of June 1, 1.9 million voters in the state requested mail-in ballots this year, and 71% of those voters are Democrats," said the report. And in Florida, "since March 17, 350,000 Democratic voters enrolled in the program, compared to 160,000 for Republicans. That gives Democrats a lead of 302,000 vote-by-mail enrollments." Usually, Republicans lead Democrats by mail-in ballot count in Florida.
"Some of the most striking evidence yet that Trump is impacting Republican voters’ vote-by-mail attitudes rests in a Rice University survey, obtained by the Washington Examiner, of 1,002 registered voters in Harris County, Texas — the most populous county in the state that has a larger portion," said the report. "The survey found that 68% of Democrats said they would be very likely to want to vote by mail, but only 42% of Republicans said the same. About 38% of Republicans said they would be very unlikely to vote with a mail-in ballot, compared to 14% of Democrats."
Theoretically, Republicans could overcome this deficit on Election Day. However, by depriving themselves of one of the simplest and easiest methods of voting, many Republicans could be increasing their own difficulty in casting a ballot.
"The risk for Republicans is what happens if in-person voting is complicated or hindered on Election Day, such as when mass numbers of polling places were closed this year in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, causing some voters to leave," said the report. "Or, if there is a resurgence of the virus, the voters who declined to obtain a mail-in ballot may decide not to vote in person and risk contracting the coronavirus."
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