by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The coronavirus has opened a new front in the battle for the White House, with Democrats demanding more federal control over the November elections and Republicans insisting the states are equipped to address voting challenges posed by the pandemic.
Democrats for years have sought to impose universal voting standards on the states. But now they claim the matter is urgent, warning the coronavirus pandemic could disrupt in-person voting at polling places and inhibit Americans from participating in the presidential election. Among other proposals, congressional Democrats want legislation that would force states to adopt early voting, online voter registration, and voting by mail in which every registered voter automatically receives a ballot.
But even after the coronavirus caused problems with Tuesday’s primary election in Wisconsin, a key 2020 battleground, Republicans say states can handle any fallout from the pandemic. Most states, especially those that will decide the presidential contest, have robust absentee voting programs and ample time to prepare for the fall, say Republicans, who are accusing Democrats of using a public health crisis as an excuse for a power grab.
“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to [statewide] mail-in voting,” President Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
“Many states already have absentee or vote-by-mail options with safeguards to protect from fraud,” added Mike Reed, a Republican National Committee spokesman.
But Democrats say this is not simply a matter of states’ rights versus federal control, while taking issue with GOP claims of concern about protecting the right of every eligible American to vote.
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