Trump backs off threat to defund Michigan over mail-in ballots

President Trump says he’s unlikely to make good on a threat to withdraw funds from states including Michigan over their promotion of mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’ll be finding out very soon if it’s necessary. I don’t think it’s going to be necessary,” Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday afternoon.

Trump said he “just spoke with” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, about flooding in the state, but not specifically about his threat. Trump is scheduled to visit Michigan on Thursday, but is not slated to meet Whitmer, whose name has been floated as a potential vice president pick for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that he could “hold up” funds to Michigan, which sent 7.7 million absentee ballot request forms to residents, and to Nevada for promoting mail-in voting, which he said could result in fraud.

In his afternoon remarks, Trump said he remains concerned about fraud and encouraged people to vote in person despite COVID-19. He said it was reasonable for some people to vote by mail — such as himself, as he is registered in Florida and cannot readily be there to vote — but that mass mail-in balloting could create problems.

“I’m at the White House. And I have to send a ballot to Florida, that makes sense. So if you needed for some reason, or if somebody’s not well, that’s one thing,” Trump said. “But when you send out 7.7 million mail-in ballots there’s forgeries, there’s frankly duplication where they print ballots on the same kind of paper with the same kind of machinery and you can’t tell the difference.”

Trump said it would alarming for ballots to be widely distributed, though side-stepped a reporter’s question about several Republican-led states also encouraging remote voting.

“They pick the ballot — they take them out of mailboxes. They go around and accumulate them. They harvest them. I guess the word is ‘harvest’ them. And it was especially prevalent in California, and it’s just not a fair situation,” Trump said.

Trump alleged “a lot of people in certain districts don’t ever get their ballot.”

He added: “Maybe the same person signs them with different writing, different pens — I don’t know.  A lot of things can happen. No, if you can, you should go and vote. Voting is an honor, it shouldn’t be something where they send you a pile of stuff and you send it back.”


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