In a social media post Wednesday, President Trump threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan for what he described as a “rogue Secretary of State” “illegally” sending absentee ballots to 7.7 million people — a claim prompted by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s announcement of a plan to send absentee ballot applications to qualified Michigan voters.
“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Trump followed up the post by tagging Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and the U.S. Treasury Department.
@RussVought45 @MarkMeadows @USTreasury
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
While Trump accused Benson of “send[ing] absentee ballots” to millions of residents, the Democratic Secretary of State’s plan is to first send the 7.7 million qualified voters applications for the ballots.
Benson quickly responded to Trump’s tweet by highlighting the distinction between sending out ballots and ballot applications.
“Hi! I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson,” she tweeted in response. “And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia.”
Hi! 👋🏼 I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. https://t.co/kBsu4nHvOy
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 20, 2020
But people on Trump’s side, including Republican strategist and adviser to Donald Trump Jr. Andrew Surabian, argue that Trump is right that Benson has acted “illegally.”
To the people attacking @realDonaldTrump for his tweet on absentee ballot applications in Michigan:
According to the law, he's 100% right 👇👇👇 https://t.co/fbvmjTBF5Z
— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) May 20, 2020
“Benson announced Tuesday that she will mail all of Michigan’s 7.7 million voters an absentee voter application, an effort first employed in the May 5 election to curb in-person voting amid the coronavirus,” The Detroit News explains. “Benson said earlier this month she was focused on educating voters on their right to vote absentee for no reason, a move approved by voters in 2018.”
Sending out the ballot applications to everyone, Benson said Tuesday, is part of her “responsibility to provide all voters equal access.”
“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Benson as The Detroit News reported. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
The $4.5 million move will depend on federal CARES Act funding. While Benson maintains that she has the authority to make the significant decision, Republicans in the state are pushing back on the “unilateral move.”
“I do question how and why this specific mailing was done right now,” said former Michigan Secretary of State and current Republican Senator Ruth Johnson, the Detroit News reports. “… Like Gov. Whitmer, Secretary Benson seems to be taking unilateral actions with no input and questionable motives — and that is very troubling.”
The Democrat-Republican debate over absentee ballots has been inflamed by the coronavirus pandemic, as states, particularly Democrat-controlled states like Michigan, increasingly eye remote voting for the 2020 primary and general elections.
The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media’s rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.