People wear protective masks as they walk past a U.S. Postal Service blue collection box on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., August 13, 2020. The U.S. Postal Service is a sticking point on the stalled congressional talks with the Trump administration on the latest coronavirus relief. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would intentionally block Democrat-led efforts to include funds for the U.S. Postal Service and voting infrastructure in the latest coronavirus relief bill. Noting two key funding elements in the bill proposed by Democrats, Trump said, “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.” Later in the day, Trump appeared to reverse his stance on the subject, saying he would consider signing legislation to assist the post office. In a news briefing Friday, he said he would agree to $25 billion in funding if Democrats made concessions.

Alongside his critique of mail-in voting this week, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump requested mail-in ballots less than a week before Florida’s primary, marking the second time Trump requested a mail ballot since changing his legal residence to Mar-a-Lago. Notably, the Trumps will not technically vote by mail, because they utilized an aspect of Florida voting law that allows the ballots to be picked up by a representative. The ballots must be turned in by 7 p.m. on August 18.

While Trump has recently lauded absentee voting in certain states like Florida and North Carolina, experts have said absentee voting is very similar to no-excuse mail-in voting. Trump’s beliefs on mail-in voting have been supported in recent days by Attorney General William Barr and RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, while former President Barrack Obama said Trump was actively working to disrupt the 2020 election. Amid attacks from the president, the U.S.Post Office applied for a patent with the title “Secure Voting System,” a blockchain technology intends to secure mail-in voting.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Trump Says Gutting the Post Office ‘Means You Can’t Have Universal Mail-In Voting’ – Rolling Stone – 8/13/2020
When it comes to voting rights in our pandemic election year, President Donald Trump has a habit of saying the quiet part out loud. In May, he tweeted that mail-in voting in 2020 would “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY.” In June, he told Politico that the “biggest threat” to his re-election was if the dozens of lawsuits filed by his campaign and Republican allies to block expanded access to mail-in voting failed. […] In a Thursday morning interview on Fox Business, Trump went even further.

Trump Gets Mail Ballot for Florida Primary – Newsmax – 8/14/2020
The president has pushed back on mail-in voting as states grapple with how to handle in-person voting during the pandemic. He has claimed the practice is rife with fraud. But he has also said Florida’s election system is “safe and secure” and encouraged people in the state to vote by mail.

Trump admits he’s stalling pandemic relief to make it harder to vote – Vox – 8/13/2020
At a Wednesday press briefing, President Donald Trump laid out some of his objections to a Democratic proposal to provide additional aid to individuals and states who are struggling financially during the pandemic. He specifically named two provisions that he finds unacceptable: $3.5 billion in funding for elections that could be used to fund mail-in voting, and $25 billion in funding for the post office. Appearing on Fox Business Thursday morning, Trump elaborated on his objection to these two line items: He doesn’t want universal mail-in voting to be possible.

America’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer: Democrats ‘Grossly Irresponsible’ To Push Mail-In Voting, It’s ‘Reckless And Wrong’ – The Daily Wire – 8/14/2020
“There’s no problem with that, especially for states that have been doing that for awhile,” Barr said. “But the idea that you, without any request from the voter will mail out your voting list, all these thousands and thousands of ballots is scary, because most of those mailings go to a lot of addresses where the people no longer live. They’re misdirected and I think they will create a situation – they could easily create a situation where there’s going to be a contested election.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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