Michigan Rebukes Trump, Seeks to Expand Absentee Voting Amid COVID-19

Donald Trump walking outside
United States President Donald J. Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Pool via CNP/MediaPunch.

President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan over their pursuit of a mail-in voting expansion. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in May 2020 that all registered voters would be mailed applications for absentee ballots for the state’s August and November elections.

Since 2018, every eligible voter in Michigan has a constitutional right to vote absentee, following the passage of a popular ballot measure establishing no-excuse absentee voting.

There has been a surge of interest in absentee ballots this year made more urgent by fears around the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines from public health officials about avoiding crowded indoor locations where the virus is more likely to spread.

This has lead state election officials to prepare alternatives to allow voters to vote safely. Despite the public’s overwhelming support for absentee voting, President Trump has tried to turn this into a partisan issue. Trump has said that making it easier for citizens to vote by mail could hurt Republicans, despite having no evidence to back up his claims.

In fact, as Trump criticizes vote by mail, his own campaign and the Republican National Committee are working in multiple states to educate Republicans on how to vote absentee in their states, as are the Democratic party committees.

Now there is a court case over Benson’s authority to expand absentee voting. On June 11, 2020, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Benson’s effort to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic.

CLC is representing a grassroots group in Michigan called Voters Not Politicians, which is running a VoteSafe campaign to educate voters about how to become an advocate for safe voting in Michigan.

It is critical to American democracy and to protect public health that all voters have the choice to vote absentee in the November 2020 election.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter