An unusual tweet from President Trump set off a round of speculation yesterday about why he seems to be pulling an about-face on the issue of mail-in balloting. He's been agitating against the idea for weeks, then seemingly out of the blue, he decided to endorse vote-by-mail -- in Florida, specifically. What gives? Here's the tweet, published Tuesday afternoon:
Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2020
And here's a Politico story, published less than 24 hours prior:
Donald Trump’s all-out war on mail voting is backfiring in battleground states. New private polling shared first with POLITICO showed that Republicans have become overwhelmingly concerned about mail balloting, which Trump has claimed without evidence, will lead to widespread voter fraud. A potentially decisive slice of Trump’s battleground-state base — 15 percent of Trump voters in Florida, 12 percent in Pennsylvania and 10 percent in Michigan — said that getting a ballot in the mail would make them less likely to vote in November. Trump won each of those states by a thin margin in 2016, and less than 1 percent of Joe Biden voters said getting a ballot mailed to them would make them less likely to vote. Overall, 53 percent of voters in Florida and about half in Michigan and Pennsylvania expressed health concerns about casting their ballots in person and prefer voting by mail in November.
He's been banging the drum about mail-in fraud so loudly that he's freaked out...his own voters, who may be less likely to vote at all because of it. Meanwhile, would-be Biden voters aren't put off at all, and may even be steeling their resolve to cast ballots. That's not a recipe for success, so Allahpundit is likely right about the genesis of this 180, as well as his prediction that Trump will issue similar decrees about the reliability of vote-by-mail systems in other crucial states. I think this area of concern, as expressed by the RNC chairwoman, is legitimate, particularly considering how Democrats are increasingly pushing for California-style ballot harvesting schemes to be implemented nationwide, which could certainly fuel fraud (it did in North Carolina, where the practice is illegal). But for me, the biggest concern is that a bunch of states that are unaccustomed to running mail-in voting as a primary or exclusive system descending into chaos as they attempt to do so on the fly, mid-pandemic:
.@guypbenson joined @OutnumberedOT with @HARRISFAULKNER today to talk about major concerns that mail-in voting pose to election security #FoxNewsRadio #FoxNews #GuyBenson #GuyBensonShow #FNC pic.twitter.com/EsY9lbX0jc— The Guy Benson Show (@GuyBensonShow) August 4, 2020
Look no further than the mess in New York, where two Democratic primary races remain contested six weeks after the fact due to an ongoing mail-in voting debacle:
A judge orders New York’s boards of elections to immediately begin counting many ballots that came in without postmarks pic.twitter.com/fyajGD07bx— Bill Mahoney (@mahoneyw) August 4, 2020
Without postmarks. Judges making up counting rules as they go along sounds disastrous. Imagine scenes like this playing out across multiple states, with crucial outcomes hanging in the balance, potentially for weeks on end. And imagine the impact of an electoral meltdown compounding the concurrent COVID, economic and social unrest crises. It's not a pretty picture. The blame game is underway in deep-blue New York, where there are no Republicans to blame for "suppression," incompetence, or fear-mongering:
Election officials in New York City widely distributed mail-in ballots for the primary on June 23, which featured dozens of hard-fought races. The officials had hoped to make voting much easier, but they did not seem prepared for the response: more than 10 times the number of absentee ballots received in recent elections in the city. Now, nearly six weeks later, two closely watched congressional races remain undecided, and major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems are being cited as examples of the challenges facing the nation as it looks toward conducting the November general election during the pandemic. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other officials are trading blame for the botched counting in the city, and the Postal Service is coming under criticism over whether it is equipped to handle the sharp increase in absentee ballots.
I'll leave you with some hopeful news for Republicans regarding new voter registration:
UPDATE - Yikes: