President Donald Trump got upset when Jocelyn Benson, the Michigan secretary of state, did what the state constitution lets her do.
Trump, not known for his reading proclivities, didn't have to consult the Michigan constitution to learn he was wrong.
Nor did our hydroxychloroquine-popping president have to ask his staff to find articles on Proposal 3, which Michigan voters approved overwhelmingly in 2018. Proposal 3 amended the state constitution to, among other things, permit voters to get an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot for any reason, or no reason at all.
What was Benson's crime? She distributed an application to all registered voters so they can request an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot. With COVID-19 killing more than 5,000 residents, Benson asked voters to decide whether they want to vote in-person or vote-by-mail. Trump incorrectly charged that she mailed out ballots to registered voters.
Trump could have done better if he took the time to do some basic research.
Between his tweets or other tantrums, tempered or not, Trump should have turned on his White House computer. He could have typed in MichiganVoting.org to learn about voting rules in one of the states he barely won in 2016.
The website would have given the president all the information he needed, beginning with, "All registered voters in Michigan can now vote before Election Day using what's called an absentee ballot. You don't need an excuse or a reason. You can vote before Election Day from home, or by going to your city or township clerk's office."
Why did a number of organizations work with voters and some Michigan election officials to build the website? The website says, "There have been changes to Michigan's voting laws in order to make voting more accessible for Michigan voters. This website is a non-partisan resource to help voters navigate Michigan's new voting laws so that we can all successfully cast our ballots in 2020."
It is impossible to determine if Trump even knew MichiganVoting.org exists.
Clearly, though, the state and its 16 electoral votes are on his mind.
He threatened to withhold money from Michigan because he alleged -- without evidence -- that Democratic leaders hatched a vote-by-mail plot to make voter fraud flourish this fall when he is seeking reelection.
Benson, the top election official in Michigan, fought back. She noted that Republican secretaries of state have also contacted registered voters in their states to see if they want to assert their right to get an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot as a way to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
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