After Trump attacks Benson, Arizona SOS touts plan to mail voter applications

Getty Images

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is standing with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson after President Trump blasted her twice on Twitter Wednesday over mail-in voting.

Trump threatened to withhold federal funding from Michigan over a plan to give every voter in the state an opportunity to vote by mail in this year’s elections – the same thing that Arizona election officials will do this year.

Benson, a Democrat, announced this week she would send every voter in the state an application to vote by mail for upcoming elections in August and November. The move is intended to reduce in-person voting in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, one of the states that has been hit hardest by the virus.

Updated: Benson counters Trump’s inaccurate voting tweet: ‘We sent applications, not ballots’

There are about 7.7 million registered voters in Michigan, 1.3 million of whom are already on the state’s permanent early voting list.

Benson’s plan earned her a sharp rebuke Wednesday morning from Trump, who has repeatedly inveighed against voting by mail, claiming – without evidence – that it is susceptible to fraud and that it aids Democrats. He at first tweeted Benson sent out ballots, which she corrected him on and he deleted the post. Then in the afternoon he resent the tweet, but included they were applications.

However, Benson noted in a tweet that her plan is not, in fact, illegal. In 2018, voters approved Proposal 3, which provides that any voter can use an absentee ballot to vote during the 40 days before an election.

Hobbs, a Democrat, announced in March that she would mail applications for the state’s Permanent Early Voting List to every voter who isn’t already signed up for it. In the wake of Trump’s tirade against Michigan, Hobbs proudly touted her plan as she retweeted Benson.

“We are doing this in AZ too!” Hobbs tweeted.

 

Hobbs told the Arizona Mirror that her office is coordinating with election officials in the state’s 15 counties. If any county doesn’t send applications to voters, Hobbs said her office will, though she’s not aware of any county that doesn’t plan to do so. The counties and the secretary of state’s office are also planning a publicity campaign to coincide with the mailing of the applications.

Hobbs indicated that she isn’t concerned that Trump will target Arizona like he’s done with Michigan.

“He’s had Michigan in the crosshairs for quite a while, and obviously has been attacking their governor [Gretchen Whitmer] for quite a while. We don’t have the same situation here, so who knows?” Hobbs said.

Arizona’s governor is Republican Doug Ducey, who has generally been a Trump ally.

Trump also made a similar threat to Nevada, where Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, announced in March that the state would send mail-in ballots to all voters for the June 9 primary election.

Trump has not made similar threats to other states that are also mailing vote-by-mail applications to voters, including Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska or West Virginia. Trump is projected to win those states, while Michigan and Nevada are swing states that could determine the outcome of his re-election. He also hasn’t made any threats over Hobbs’s plan in Arizona, a traditionally Republican state that some believe could go Democratic in November.

Trump and members of his administration have struggled to explain why they believe Benson’s plan is illegal. According to multiple media outlets, the plan is perfectly legal and Michigan state law allows absentee voting for any reason. Cegavske emphasized in a press release that a judge recently ruled that she had the authority to declare an all-mail election.

Democratic lawmakers in Arizona pushed for all-mail voting in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but their Republican colleagues largely rejected the idea. Some, like Trump, argued that it would invite voter fraud, though election officials of both parties in states with all-mail voting say that’s not the case

Others said they opposed the idea because people should have the opportunity to vote in person if they want. Most all-mail states still allow voters to cast ballots in person on election.

A version of this story first ran in the Advance‘s sister outlet, the Arizona Mirror. Read the story here.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report.
Avatar
Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.