President’s opposition to mail in voting may hurt Republicans this November

In a strange sort of way, it appears that President Donald Trump’s decision to raise awareness about the dangers of mail-in voting could be hurting more than helping.

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, new data suggests that the president’s opposition to mail-in voting may end up leading to lower Republican participation this November. 

The coronavirus and voting

With the coronavirus still around, mail-in voting is set to play a larger role than usual in the upcoming general election. It does, after all, address the problem of how to vote without causing another coronavirus outbreak.

For many Republicans, however, including President Trump, mail-in voting has a big drawback: fraud.

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” Trump said in a Tweet at the end of May. “Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”

With such an argument what the President is trying to do is to prevent the use of mail-in ballots in the first place. But, with it looking more and more likely that mail-in ballots will play a large role, one question is what effect the president’s opposition to mail-in voting will have in November.

The numbers

New data gathered by the Examiner gives us the answer.

In Pennsylvania, which allows one to vote by mail for any reason, 1.9 million voters have requested mail-in ballots, with 71 percent of those requests coming from Democrats. Similarly, in Florida, 350,000 Democrats are enrolled to vote by mail compared to only 160,000 Republicans.

The Examiner also reported on a recent survey from Rice University involving 1,002 registered voters from Harris County, Texas. It found that 68 percent of Democrats would be very likely to vote by mail as opposed to only 42 percent of Republicans. Or, putting the question a little differently, 38 percent of participating Republicans said that they would be very unlikely to vote by mail, whereas that response was only chosen by 14 percent of Democrats.

And, just in case you don’t believe that some of this is because of Trump’s rhetoric against mail-in voting, Bob Stein, the Rice University professor who conducted the poll, told the Examiner that these Republican survey numbers have gotten worse, by 4 or 5 points, after the president starting his campaign against mail-in voting.

What to make of all this?

You would think that alerting people to the risks of mail-in voting would be a good thing, but it certainly looks like doing so can only hurt one group – Republicans. The argument against mail-in voting is that there will be fraud, and the implication tends to be that Democrats will get more votes than they have earned. In other words, there is no incentive for Democrats not to vote by mail, whereas Republicans, as the numbers show, are being disincentivized.

The bottom line in all of this is that we have to vote this November – whether it is done in person or whether we have to vote by mail because of coronavirus restrictions. Fraud or no fraud, it is always better for us to cast our ballots at least giving our voices the chance to be heard, than not casting and having no chance.

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