Absentee Voting: Republicans, Democrats push ahead on absentee voting even as Trump blasts Michigan over it

Weeks before President Donald Trump lashed out at Michigan leaders for considering a plan to send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters, West Virginia did exactly what Trump is now condemning.
So did Nebraska. And Iowa. And Georgia. And several other states.
Trump, who has railed against vote-by-mail for weeks, took his assault a step further Wednesday, threatening to withhold federal funds from Michigan if it "illegally" sends absentee ballot applications to the state's citizens before its primary Aug. 4 and the election Nov. 3. He blasted Nevada on Twitter, calling its plan to send absentee ballots to all registered voters before its primary June 9 a "great Voter Fraud scenario."
But mailing absentee ballot request forms to all voters has been widely used in other states, helmed by Republicans and Democrats alike, in recent weeks. It has become a more pressing issue before state primaries, 17 of which were delayed from this spring because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Most secretaries of state said they made the proactive move to send applications not only to educate voters about the option but to encourage them to vote by mail to avoid the health risks of voters flocking to polling sites and standing in long lines on election night.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, said he sent applications to all 1.2 million registered voters, active and inactive, as a matter of "fundamental fairness" to educate citizens about the new option for voting in the primary June 9.
"I wanted it to be uniform across the state," Warner said, declining to respond to Trump's remarks. "I can just speak for West Virginia."
Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., allowed absentee voting by mail without an excuse even before the pandemic. That includes five states, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii that conduct their elections entirely by mail. California, where two-thirds of voters already voted by mail, will move to an all-mail system in November.
In several of the 16 states where voters must provide an excuse to receive an absentee ballot – being over 65 years old, out of town during Election Day, or in the military, for example – they can now cite coronavirus as a reason as well. Most states have made the change only for the upcoming primary election for now but could extend that to November later.
That includes West Virginia, which received a massive response to their mailed applications: 238,811 people requested ballots and 119,000 have turned them in. Typically, only 3% of the state's voters vote absentee.
"Those are quite substantial numbers for West Virginia," Warner said.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, told USA TODAY the state mailed 6.9 million absentee ballot request forms to all active Georgia voters to make sure Georgians can "cast their ballot without risking their health." Since then, 1.5 million Georgians have requested absentee ballots, a massive spike from the 40,000 requested in the state's 2018 primary or the more than 200,000 requested in the 2016 and 2018 general elections.
Only five states, each in the South, have not taken action to expand vote-by-mail amid the pandemic nor are they allowing the coronavirus as an excuse to seek an absentee ballot.

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