Politico has a very interesting article on how Trump’s campaign to cast doubt on the legitimacy of voting by mail may end up destroying any chance Republicans could win.
New private polling shared first with POLITICO showed that Republicans have become overwhelmingly concerned about mail balloting, which Trump has claimed, without evidence, will lead to widespread voter fraud. A potentially decisive slice of Trump’s battleground-state base — 15 percent of Trump voters in Florida, 12 percent in Pennsylvania and 10 percent in Michigan — said that getting a ballot in the mail would make them less likely to vote in November.
Political operatives have been trying to figure how all the unusual circumstances might affect voting in 2020. With the election three months away and the first widespread absentee ballots to be mailed on September 4 (in North Carolina), it’s a question with increasing urgency.
Conservative campaign operatives have also worried that the president’s dismissal of the method will hurt their programs to encourage voters to take advantage of the option, allowing Democrats to build up a big lead. There’s early signs that that is coming to pass: In Florida, 302,000 more Democrats have enrolled in the state’s vote-by-mail program than Republicans.
You can also see this in the state of North Carolina where numbers of absentee requests by voters from each party are available for most counties. These are requests for absentee ballot, not returned ballots, but it shows the number of requests from registered Republicans has increased 260%, the requests from Unaffiliated voters is up 824%, and requests for absentee ballots from registered Democrats is up 808% from the same date in 2016.
Party registrations for same day ABM request totals in 2016 vs. 2020.
registered Democrats: 7,476 (38%)
reg Unaffiliated: 5,059 (26%)
reg Republicans: 7,224 (36%)
— Old North State Politics (@OldNorthStPol) August 2, 2020
Five states previously had vote by mail for all voters in all elections, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. Vermont, California, and DC are planning to mail ballots to all voters. Nevada also decided to send absentee ballots to all registered voters as of yesterday, though the Trump campaign says it will sue.
Ahead of the November election, 42 states and the District of Columbia will, at a minimum, effectively allow for no-excuse absentee voting. The vast majority of Americans will have a mail-in option available to them, should they choose to use it.
The number of people voting by mail will obviously increase enormously in 2020. How people will actually vote is yet to be seen, but a couple of months ago some Michigan Trump supporters got together in the middle of the pandemic to burn the absentee ballot requests they automatically received in the mail for the primary.