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Trump Encourages FL Mail Vote, Sues NV 08/05 06:14

   In an abrupt reversal, President Donald Trump is encouraging voters in the 
critical swing state of Florida to vote by mail after months of criticizing the 
practice -- and while his campaign and the GOP challenge Nevada over its new 
vote-by-mail law.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an abrupt reversal, President Donald Trump is 
encouraging voters in the critical swing state of Florida to vote by mail after 
months of criticizing the practice -- and while his campaign and the GOP 
challenge Nevada over its new vote-by-mail law.

   Democratic requests to vote by mail have surged in Florida, a state that 
Trump almost certainly must win to secure a second term. Democrats currently 
have about 1.9 million Floridians signed up to vote by mail this November, 
almost 600,000 more than the Republicans' 1.3 million, according to the Florida 
secretary of state.

   In 2016, both sides had about 1.3 million signed up before the general 
election.

   "Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the 
election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True," Trump tweeted Tuesday. 
"Florida's Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at 
change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!"

   White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany rejected the notion that the 
Republican president has changed his views. She said Trump supports absentee 
voting by mail for a reason, as opposed to states mailing out ballots to all 
voters regardless of whether they requested them. Most election officials say 
there is little effective difference between absentee voting and voting by mail.

   Trump elaborated Tuesday on why he supports voting by mail in Florida but 
not elsewhere.

   "They've been doing this over many years, and they've made it really 
terrific," he said during a news conference.

   "This took years to do," he added. "This doesn't take weeks or months. In 
the case of Nevada, they're going to be voting in a matter of weeks. And you 
can't do that."

   Nevada officials joined several states that plan on automatically sending 
voters mail ballots. Two states, California and Vermont, moved earlier this 
summer to adopt automatic mail ballot policies.

   With the bill passed by lawmakers on Sunday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a 
Democrat, signed it into law on Monday. In a tweet Trump called the bill's 
passage "an illegal late night coup" and accused Sisolak of exploiting the 
coronavirus pandemic to ensure votes would favor Democrats.

   Making good on Trump's threat of legal action, his campaign and the national 
and state GOP filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Nevada against the 
secretary of state to stop the plan. Contending the new law would undermine the 
election's integrity, the suit included the argument that Nevada would violate 
federal and constitutional law by requiring election officials to accept and 
count ballots received after Election Day even when those ballots lacked 
objective evidence that they were cast on or before that day.

   Trump's praise of its voting aside, Florida hardly has a history of flawless 
elections, most notably in 2000, when the state's disputed vote count had to be 
resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, delivering the presidency to Republican 
George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.

   Trump cited a New York race as an example of what can go wrong, claiming no 
one could know the winner. In that race, a judge ruled Monday that about 1,000 
disputed ballots should be counted. That will likely not affect the outcome 
since the incumbent, longtime Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, is leading her 
closest challenger by about 3,700 votes.

   "I think they have to do the election over," Trump said. "That election is 
no good."

   More voters during this year's primary elections opted to vote by mail, and 
several states relaxed restrictions for voting absentee through the mail. Trump 
himself voted by mail in the Florida primary this year.

   Five states have relied on mail-in ballots since even before the coronavirus 
pandemic raised concerns about voting in person, but there is no evidence to 
support Trump's assertion that voting by mail leads to widespread fraud.

   Trump has gone so far as to suggest by tweet that the November election 
should be delayed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote."

   States that use mail-in votes exclusively say they have necessary safeguards 
in place to ensure that a hostile foreign actor doesn't disrupt the vote. 
Election security experts say voter fraud is rare in all forms of balloting, 
including by mail.

   With Florida's large retirement population, voting by mail is expected to 
become a more popular option this November. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was asked 
Saturday if he had concerns about the option. "No, I'm not concerned about 
mail-in voting in Florida," he said tersely.

   Florida GOP officials welcomed Trump's tweet.

   "Thank you for the clarification Mr President! This is very helpful," said 
Joe Gruters, the chair of Florida's Republican Party. "Florida will deliver you 
the 29 electoral votes!"

   Florida's presidential contests are usually close, with Trump winning by 
just 1.2 percentage points in 2016 and George W. Bush winning by just 537 votes 
in 2000.

 
 
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