On voting by mail, public rejects the Republican line

Trump and his allies have tried to turn the public against voting by mail. Their efforts aren't working.
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An election workers sorts vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Washington on March 10, 2020.Jason Redmond / AFP - Getty Images file

Donald Trump is certain he hates the idea of Americans casting ballots by mail. He's less sure how to make a case against the idea.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, the president recently denounced mail-in balloting as "horrible" and "corrupt," which led a reporter to remind Trump of an inconvenient detail: he voted by mail in the election cycle. Offered a chance to reconcile the contradiction, it didn't go well.

"Sure, I can vote by mail," Trump declared. "Because I'm allowed to."

Evidently, quite a few Americans think they should also be allowed to.

As states explore ways to expand voting options amid the coronavirus outbreak, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that a majority of voters support changing election law so that everyone can vote by mail. Some 58% of voters in the survey said they favor changing election laws permanently to allow voting by mail. While 39% oppose a permanent change, one-quarter of that group says mail-in voting should be allowed this November due to the virus. When those findings are combined, 67% of voters in the survey say they favor a mail-in voting option for this November.

On contentious issues in a politically divided nation, two-thirds support for postal balloting is quite high. Indeed, it suggests the Republican campaign against the idea -- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently said it's "disgusting" to see Democrats advocate in support of voting by mail during a pandemic -- isn't proving persuasive with the American mainstream.

To the extent that there's a substantive angle to the debate, GOP officials have said postal balloting leads to fraud. In reality, five states already conduct elections by mail without incident.

Asked for evidence to substantiate his "fraud" claims, Trump recently told reporters, "I think there's a lot of evidence, but we'll provide you with some, okay?"

So far, neither the president nor anyone on his team have substantiated the claims.