Despite Trump’s dire warnings of fraud, vote by mail keeps gaining public support in Florida, especially among Hispanics.
As the November general elections near, President Trump continues to wage a relentless war against vote by mail via Twitter, calling it “corrupt” and “ripe for fraud” in bold letters, even after his own party, the Florida GOP, has spent tens of millions of dollars in recent elections promoting the practice, according to Politico.
“You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place. No. I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing. I think if you vote, you should go,” Trump said during an April coronavirus briefing in the White House, despite casting a mail-in ballot himself in the March 17 Florida presidential primary because, at the time, he was away from his Palm Beach home.
Mail-in Ballots Gaining Popularity
But despite Trump’s dire warnings, voting by mail keeps gaining public support in Florida, his adopted state, particularly among the Hispanics who make up more than 26 percent of the swing state’s population.
According to a May survey commissioned by the nonprofit organizations, SOMOS and the progressive advocacy group MoveOn, when asked if they thought Congress should include funding for states to provide vote-by-mail ballots or absentee voting for those who do not want to vote in person, 84% of Florida Hispanics polled said it should be included.
In fact, of the three million people that voted in last March’s presidential primary in Florida, 1.4 million, or nearly 47 percent, voted by mail, according to the survey. That surpassed the number of mail ballots cast in the 2016 presidential primary by 16 percent.
Yet, Trump and his Republican allies in Congress continue to do everything in their power to prevent people from casting their vote by mail.
On May 16 the Democratic-led House passed the HEROES Act, which contains security measures designed to make voting easier and safer. But Senate Republicans are refusing to take up a vote for the bill, with many saying they’ll vote against it.
For his part, the president has threatened to pull federal funding from Michigan and Nevada for their plans to make voting by mail more accessible to everyone.
The Battles in Florida
Fueled by Trump’s rhetoric and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ unwavering support for the president, the battle lines have been drawn in Florida, a state that Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016
On May 18 the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Florida, and the National Republican Congressional Committee requested permission from a federal judge to intervene in a lawsuit brought against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and state and local election officials.
The case, just one of several legal battles over voting and voting rights underway in Florida, was filed by a group of Florida voters and Priorities USA seeking to throw out state ballot-return deadlines, as well as laws that limit who collects vote-by-mail ballots and returns them to local election offices.
Echoing the president’s hyperbole, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters called the lawsuit “an attempt to steal as many votes as possible in President Trump’s home state.”
Yet after more than a yearlong investigation into alleged vote-by-mail fraud perpetrated by the Florida Democratic Party at the end of the 2018 election cycle, state law-enforcement officials found “no evidence of fraudulent intent.”
Trump Shows His Cards
On April 8, after an appearance on Fox channel’s Fox & Friends, the president took to his favorite mode of communication with the American people to tweet: “Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason,” the president said, “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
According to Maria Teresa Kumar from Voto Latino, an organization whose primary aim is to encourage young Hispanic and Latino voters to register to vote and become more politically involved, “it’s hard to imagine why one political party would be so adamantly opposed to voters engaging in their constitutional duty, but Trump has said it himself: he believes vote-by-mail ‘doesn’t work out well for Republicans.’”
Voting restrictions created under the pretext of preventing voter fraud mostly affect people of color and the poor.