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Trump Re-Election Campaign Sues Nevada Over Vote-By-Mail Policy

Closeup of 'Vote-by-mail' section on a voter registration form, with ballpoint pen laying on the form.
By Ashley Ravid on August 13, 2020 1:09 PM

Even before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, he claimed that rampant voter fraud contributed to swaying elections across the country.

As his campaign for reelection heats up, Trump is continuing to slam vote-by-mail, especially with COVID-19 providing motivation for many to avoid casting their ballots in person. Matching his verbal broadsides, Trump's reelection campaign filed a lawsuit challenging Nevada's new policy of sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter. What does this lawsuit mean for the future of vote-by-mail?

Trump vs. Nevada's AB4

The recently passed Nevada AB4 bill will make the state the eighth to automatically mail absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state. Many other states have adjusted their vote-by-mail policies during the pandemic, but President Trump has taken issue with Nevada in particular.

"In an illegal late night coup Nevada's clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state. Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!" Trump tweeted.

The day after AB4 passed, his campaign filed a lawsuit to challenge its provisions, though the suit quickly drew criticism for its unclear argumentation and inaccurate description of the Nevada bill. The suit has yet to explain why the bill's time of passage is constitutionally problematic.

The lawsuit claims that the new vote-by-mail policies disadvantage the Republican party and lower their chances of election victory, claiming that, "The [Republican National Committee] also has an interest in preventing AB4's constitutionally problematic changes to Nevada election law ... AB4 forces the RNC to divert resources and spend significant amounts of money educating Nevada voters on [vote-by-mail] changes and encouraging them to still vote."

What's up in Florida?

Trump may have another motivation for attacking the expansion of mail-in voting: a personal advantage in the polls.

Emerson University reports that Biden voters are more likely to vote by mail rather than in-person, while Trump supporters tend to prefer voting in person. Interestingly, Trump appeared to walk back his rhetoric on the dangers of absentee ballots in one particular place.

He recently tweeted, "Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida's Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!"

A win in Florida, an important swing state, is considered essential if Trump hopes to win reelection this November. Experts attribute his change of attitude to vote-by-mail there to a fear of alienating Florida Republicans who want to request absentee ballots.

Will Absentee Ballots Be Impacted?

While it is difficult to predict the outcome of the lawsuit this early in the proceedings, the main goal of the Trump administration's lawsuit is to challenge late-postmarked absentee ballots. Regardless of the decision of the suit, you can make sure your vote is counted by voting as early as possible. You can find resources to determine when this is if you are voting by mail here or voting in person here.

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