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Trump threatens to cut off federal money for Michigan over mail-in voting

by Reuters
Wednesday, 20 May 2020 12:36 GMT

(Adds details, background)

WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called Michigan's plan to send mail-in voting applications to all voters in the state illegal, without citing a specific law, and threatened to withhold funding to the state.

"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 wrote in a tweet.

Trump addressed his tweet to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, his chief of staff, and the acting U.S. budget director.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday said all 7.7 million Michigan voters would receive absentee ballot applications before the state's Aug. 4 primary and the Nov. 3 general election, so that no one "has to choose between their health and their right to vote."

Michigan does not reliably line up with one political party. Republican Trump won the state in 2016 but in 2012 it went to former President Barack Obama, a Democrat. The Democrats' presumptive nominee this year, Joe Biden, served as Obama's vice president.

Republicans say mail-in voting leads to fraud and favors Democrats, while Democrats say it allows a wider group of people to participate in elections.

Cutting off federal aid to the state, led by a Democratic governor who is on Biden's short list of possible running mates, could be disastrous.

In the past two months a massive outbreak of the novel coronavirus prompted a rigorous state-wide lockdown, which then brought armed protesters to the state capital. Then on Tuesday night, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for part of the state after heavy rains broke two dams and displaced thousands of residents.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Chizu Nomiyama)

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