WASHINGTON — The issue of mail-in voting has become a hot topic as Americans look for ways to safely participate in November’s presidential election. A new analysis finds more than 180 million Americans, or 77% of eligible voters, will be able to cast a ballot by mail this fall.
Mail-in voting expansion amid the coronavirus pandemic has opened up the practice to an additional 80 million Americans, according to the Washington Post. This include states like California that plan to mail ballots to any registered voter. Many other states plan to send its registered voters applications for absentee ballots. Thirty four states and the District of Columbia already allow any registered voter to vote absentee.
In-person voting remains the only option in seven states unless people can provide an approved reason outside of the fear of COVID-19. Those states are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Indiana and New York.
The Washington Post notes nearly half of states expanded access to mail-in ballots for primary elections but not all have made the same move for the general election. It’s believed the politicization of the practice is to blame.
President Donald Trump has made mail-in voting a campaign issue – even acknowledging he’s starving the U.S. Postal Service of money to make it harder to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots.
“If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo in an interview last week “That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”
Trump’s statements, including the false claim that Democrats are seeking universal mail-in voting, come as he is searching for a strategy to gain an advantage in his November matchup against Joe Biden. He’s pairing the tough Postal Service stance in congressional negotiations with an increasingly robust mail-in-voting legal fight in states that could decide the election.
In Iowa, which Trump won handily in 2016 but is more competitive this year, his campaign joined a lawsuit Wednesday against two Democratic-leaning counties in an effort to invalidate tens of thousands of voters’ absentee ballot applications. That followed legal maneuvers in battleground Pennsylvania, where the campaign hopes to force changes to how the state collects and counts mail-in ballots. And in Nevada, Trump is challenging a law sending ballots to all active voters.
His efforts could face limits. The U.S. Supreme Court last week rebuffed Republicans who challenged an agreement in Rhode Island allowing residents to vote by mail through November’s general election without getting signatures from two witnesses or a notary.
For Democrats, Trump’s new remarks were a clear admission that the president is attempting to restrict voting rights.
Biden said it was “Pure Trump. He doesn’t want an election.”
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said it was ” voter suppression to undermine the safest method to vote during a pandemic, and force Americans to risk their lives to vote.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called the House back into session over the funding crisis at the Postal Service amid warnings mail-in ballots could face delays. Pelosi cut short lawmakers’ summer recess with a vote expected Saturday on legislation that would prohibit changes at the agency. The package will also include $25 billion to shore up the Postal Service, which faces continued financial losses.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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