Conservatives are growing worried that President Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting could suppress the GOP vote, as Democrats mobilize to take advantage of expanded voting opportunities, while suspicious Republicans gamble on in-person turnout during a pandemic.
Scores of states have moved to expand absentee balloting amid the coronavirus outbreak to cut down on crowds and lines, hastening a recent trend toward mail-in voting, which has grown more common and more popular in recent years.
Trump has resisted the move, saying that Democrats have an advantage in high-turnout elections and making unsubstantiated claims about widespread fraud in mail-in voting, including on Thursday when he raised the idea of delaying the election “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.”
Polls show that Trump’s attacks have undermined GOP confidence in mail-in voting, which otherwise has overwhelming support among Democrats and independents.
Some Republicans are urging GOP leaders to abandon the attacks on mail-in voting and to instead embrace it, saying that greater access to absentee ballots are a foregone conclusion this year and warning that the president is effectively sabotaging his own party by refusing to buy into that new reality.
The impact could be particularly pronounced in Florida, a battleground state where Republicans have traditionally outpaced Democrats among absentee voters. It’s also the preferred method of voting for many seniors, who broke for Trump in 2016.
“The fact that you have so-called party leaders parroting Trump’s b.s. on vote by mail is basically putting a knife to their own electoral throats,” said former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele.
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