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Pennsylvania Republicans are refusing to vote by mail because of Trump's lies

Trump’s incorrect claim that mail-in voting leads to fraud is hampering GOP efforts in the state.

By Emily Singer - May 29, 2020
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President Donald Trump speaks Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019 in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, announcing that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group who presided over its global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man, is dead after being targeted by a U.S. military raid in Syria. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Donald Trump’s false attacks on vote-by-mail appear to be having an impact in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, as GOP voters there resist efforts by Republican Party officials to sign up for and cast absentee ballots, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Friday.

Data show that, as of Thursday, 524,000 Republican voters had requested and received mail-in ballots for the state’s June 2 primary. Approximately 1.3 million Democrats did the same, according to the Inquirer.

The Pennsylvania GOP had actively pushed voters to cast mail-in ballots as a safety measure amid the pandemic, even publishing a dedicated webpage on why voting by mail was “safe” and “smart.”

They noted that the mail-in ballots were separate from absentee ballots, which were reserved for “those who will be out of the municipality on Election Day, and those with a disability, illness, military, or religious exemption.”

The news comes as Trump has been actively criticizing vote-by-mail, falsely claiming it is rife with fraud, even though he and many of his aides have used the voting method in the past.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump said that the reason he was against voting by mail is because he thinks it gives Democrats an advantage — even though there is no evidence to back that up.

“MAIL-IN VOTING WILL LEAD TO MASSIVE FRAUD AND ABUSE. IT WILL ALSO LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY,” Trump tweeted on Thursday night. “WE CAN NEVER LET THIS TRAGEDY BEFALL OUR NATION. BIG MAIL-IN VICTORY IN TEXAS COURT TODAY. CONGRATS!!!”

Even though Trump had railed against mail-in voting, the Republican National Committee is urging registered voters nationwide to utilize the method this fall, as it’s unclear whether the coronavirus will cause disruptions to in-person elections.

In April, the RNC sent mailers to registered Republicans encouraging them to request mail-in ballots to “protect yourself from large crowds on Election Day.”

“Make sure your vote counts,” the mailer read.

The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature had been trying to expand vote-by-mail even before the coronavirus upended the 2020 election, raising fears about the safety of in-person voting, according to the Inquirer this week.

Local Republican Party officials there told the outlet that GOP voters in the state, however, were listening to Trump’s claims of fraud.

“Our county kind of is a Trump county. We’re kind of listening to Trump on this,” Lee Snover, chairwoman of the Northampton County GOP, told the Inquirer. “He’s spoken about it. He’s tweeted about it. He doesn’t want us to do it.”

It’s unclear whether fewer Republican voters will turn out at in-person voting sites for Tuesday’s primary, but any GOP drop-off votes in November could hurt Trump in the state.

Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than 1 point in 2016, which amounted to fewer than 45,000 votes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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