Donald Trump again urged Republicans on Wednesday to oppose efforts to expand voting by mail, falsely suggesting it would lead to widespread voter fraud.
"Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting," the president tweeted Wednesday morning. "Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn't work out well for Republicans."
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Trump's tweet came the day after Wisconsin controversially held an in-person election, despite the public health risk of coronavirus. The state's governor, a Democrat, moved at the last minute to cancel in-person voting and to mail a ballot to every voter. But Republicans, who control the state legislature, refused. There were long lines in Milwaukee on Tuesday as the city had to consolidate its polling places after poll workers dropped out over concerns about their health.
Voter fraud in the US is extremely rare, but Republicans have long used it to justify restrictions on voting rights. Five states in the country conduct their elections entirely by mail and have developed systems to preserve the integrity of ballots. Nonetheless, Trump, who voted in Florida with a mail-in ballot in March, has repeatedly spoken out at his daily White House briefing against efforts to make it easier to vote by mail so that people don't have to risk their health to vote.
Last week, he dismissed Democratic efforts in Congress making it easier to vote in the coronavirus era. Trump said the move would make it so "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again".
During his White House briefing on Tuesday, Trump defended the fact that he voted by mail in Florida's March primary, saying it was acceptable for him to do it because he was out of the state.
"I'm allowed to," he said. "There's a big difference between somebody that's out of state and does a ballot and everything is sealed, certified and everything else."
It's unclear what Trump was referring to. Florida allows people to vote by mail regardless of whether they are in the state or not. Trump also falsely said that "you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room, signing ballots all over the place".
Republican officials in other states are also pushing voters to cast ballots by mail. In Georgia, the Republican secretary of state is mailing a voter registration form to all active registered voters in the state. Echoing Trump, the speaker of the Georgia house of representatives, a Republican, said expanding mail-in voting "will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives". He later claimed he was referring to the potential for fraud.
In Ohio, Republicans who control the legislature approved a plan to go to an all-mail election on 28 April after the governor cancelled in-person voting in March.