The Slatest

Someone Must Have Told Trump Who Lives in Florida, Because He Supports Mail-In Voting There Now

Trump waves from the top of a staircase as he boards Air Force One.
Donald Trump in Miami on July 10. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump has been clear, for months, that he does not support the expansion of mail-in voting to accommodate Americans who are apprehensive about voting at crowded indoor locations during a viral pandemic. There are a number of reasons for this:

• In general, broader ballot access favors Democrats, who tend to disproportionately live and work in circumstances that make in-person Election Day voting logistically difficult.

• Mail-in balloting is supported at the moment for epidemiological reasons by the kinds of public health experts whom Trump has been ignoring and belittling (and blaming for the economic crash, and the crash in his poll numbers) since February.

• He was going to attribute a general-election loss on (imaginary) voter fraud anyway, and the subject of mail-in ballots gives him another excuse to hype up the alleged threat.

There’s a catch, though: Given current polling, Trump has to win Florida to win the presidency again. Florida’s population is disproportionately elderly, and older people are more likely than younger people to suffer serious COVID-19 cases if they contract the coronavirus. Voting by mail is also already legal for all Florida voters. If Trump convinces a portion of his older Florida supporters that absentee/mail-in voting is illegitimate, but they also believe that voting in person would be too dangerous, and they don’t end up voting for him in any form, then—well, you can see how that would be nonoptimal for him, electorally.

The solution: Announce that mail-in voting is secure, but only in Florida.

This conclusion will be discovered as needed for other swing states in which internal polls indicate that a relevant number of Republicans are concerned about the health consequences of voting in person. Then it will be disavowed when an election-night Trump lead in one of those states becomes a Biden lead after mail-in ballots are counted. It’s all very stupid!