WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – United States President Donald Trump said he doesn’t support mail-in voting as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus, arguing that sending ballots increases the likelihood of fraud.
“I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting,” Mr Trump told reporters on Friday (April 3) at the White House. “I think people should vote with voter ID. I think voter ID is very important. The reason they don’t want voter ID is they intend to cheat.”
“All kinds of bad things can happen,” he added without citing examples.
More than a dozen states have postponed their presidential primaries because of concern that voters get too close one another and spread the coronavirus. Mr Trump said on Friday that he still expects the general election to be held on Nov 3.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, has asked his state’s Republican-controlled State Legislature to call a special session and vote to allow an all-mail election before planned primaries next week.
There’s no indication fraud has swayed elections in states where residents already vote by mail. Those states include Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Democrats have long resisted Republican efforts to increase voter identification requirements. GOP lawmakers have cited instances of voter impersonation, while Democrats have argued stricter ID requirements disproportionately harm low-income voters who may have a harder time getting a driver’s licence.
Mr Trump has raised concern that making it easier to vote would hurt the GOP. In an interview on Fox & Friends last week, he criticised a coronavirus-related funding proposal from Democrats that would have provided more money for mail-in voting.
“The things they had in there were crazy,” Mr Trump said. “They had things – levels of voting that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she plans to seek US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) to US$4 billion in the next coronavirus relief Bill to give Americans a safer way to vote in the upcoming general election. The US$2.2 trillion stimulus Bill signed by Mr Trump late last month included US$400 million for voting by mail.
Ms Pelosi said the initiative was crucial “so that people have access to voting and not be deterred, especially at this time, by the admonition to stay home”.
Mr Trump, who is registered to vote in Florida, has requested a vote-by-mail ballot in that state’s primary, according to the Palm Beach Post.