Progressives were forced to remind President Donald Trump that voting is a right enshrined by law—and not a mere privilege bestowed by political leaders—after Trump declared in a rant against mail-in ballots Wednesday that "voting is an honor."
Hours after threatening to withhold funding from Michigan and Nevada over the states' efforts to expand ballot access amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump—who himself votes by mail—said during a roundtable discussion at the White House that "if you can, you should go and vote."
"It shouldn't be something where they send you a pile of stuff and you send it back," Trump said, repeating his baseless claim that absentee ballots are prone to "massive manipulation."
"Voting is an honor," Trump says to justify his opposition to mail-in voting (voting is actually a right!) pic.twitter.com/xxzLHbj2uU
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 20, 2020
Rights groups denounced Trump's warnings to Michigan and Nevada on Wednesday as an open effort to suppress the vote for his own political benefit. Michigan is planning to mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for its August and November elections, while Nevada is set to hold its state primary next month entirely by mail to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"Once again the president is showing that he wants to disenfranchise millions of Americans for political gain—even though he himself voted by absentee ballot," Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, told Common Dreams in an emailed statement. "All eligible Americans, Independent, Republican, and Democrat, deserve to have access to the ballot."
On Twitter, advocates voiced their opposition to the president's repeated attacks on vote-by-mail by reiterating that voting is a right:
Voting is a right. https://t.co/L0Ez2PzPlV
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— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) May 21, 2020
Voting is a right. https://t.co/c4q4e9RARs
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) May 21, 2020
Voting is a right.
— Working Families Party (@WorkingFamilies) May 21, 2020
"Voting isn't a gift given by leaders," tweeted Joanne Freeman, professor of history at Yale University. "Citizens have the right to vote."