WASHINGTON – President Trump on Monday criticized attempts by Democrats in Congress to expand voting access for the presidential election in the fall, saying increased voter turnout would keep Republicans from getting elected.
Trump said that Democrat-proposed voting reforms to the $2.2 trillion rescue package passed last week by Congress — which were largely cut from the deal — would have led to “levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Democrats have pushed to mandate that states make plans to expand early voting and mail-in balloting for the fall election, in the event that the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person voting unsafe.
Trump appeared on Fox News’ morning program, “Fox & Friends,” on Monday for nearly an hour and at multiple points complained that congressional Democrats had pushed to include things he did not like in the rescue package.
Trump specifically criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who put forward a plan for $4 billion in aid to states to help them prepare for a likely scenario: a presidential election in the fall amid an ongoing pandemic.
“The Democrats come to us with Pelosi and her super-radical left group. … They want all sorts of things: ‘We want to change the voting laws, we want to change this,’” Trump said.
Pelosi’s proposal, like a similar plan in the Senate proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would have mandated that every state allow voters to cast no-excuse mail-in ballots. Currently 17 states require voters to provide a reason why they would like to vote by mail.
The Pelosi plan also would mandate each state be ready to mail ballots to every voter if there were a serious coronavirus outbreak in that region or state.
And it would have included two weeks of in-person early voting leading up to Election Day, to allow those who wanted to vote in person to do so without creating long lines or big crowds at polling places.
The coronavirus rescue package, which Trump signed into law on March 27, included $400 million to assist states with preparing for the fall election. One study estimated that it would cost at least $2 billion to prepare for a fall election in the midst of a pandemic.
Trump said on Fox News that the voting changes proposed by Democrats were “crazy.”
The president also said that if these voting reforms led to higher levels of overall turnout, it would disadvantage Republicans politically.
“They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks,” Trump said.
Trump’s comment provides ammunition to voting rights advocates who argue that Republicans have erected obstacles to voting in numerous states over the past two decades to fortify their political advantage against demographic trends that favor Democrats.
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