President Donald Trump on Monday came right out and admitted his Republican Party would soon be defunct if voting in the United States was easier in a way that allowed more citizens to vote in elections, telling a national television audience it was a good thing that Democratic proposals for increased voting protections and ballot access were left out of last week's coronavirus relief package.
The comment came during an interview with Fox & Friends, the president's go-to show for positive coverage.
"The things they had in there were crazy," Trump said of the voter protection and expansion proposals in the bill. "They had things—levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."
TRUMP: "The things they had in there were crazy. They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."
Call Congress: 202-224-3121
Demand national vote by mail by November 3rd. We need those "levels of voting." pic.twitter.com/N8mR8mFsDJ
— Vote Save America (@votesaveamerica) March 30, 2020
The remark—as many were quick to point out—is what's called "saying the quiet part loud."
"This morning on live television, the president of the United States admitted he is opposed to laws that would make it easier for Americans to vote because that would hurt Republicans," said Ellen Kurz, founder and board president of iVote, which seeks to expand voting rights for Americans.
As the Washington Post's Aaron Blake noted:
Trump didn't expand on the thought. But he clearly linked high turnout to Republicans losing elections. The most generous reading of his comment is that he was referring to large-scale voter fraud resulting from the easier vote-by-mail options; Trump has in the past baselessly speculated about millions of fraudulent votes helping Democrats in the 2016 election. The more nefarious reading would be that allowing more people to participate in the process legally would hurt his party because there are more Democratic-leaning voters in the country.
That's apparently true, but you typically don't see Republicans expressing the sentiment so directly. Generally, they'll connect tighter voting rules such as Voter ID to protecting the integrity of the process.
After progressive proposals to enhance voter protections and increased access were scrapped from the compromise bill that emerged from U.S. Senate—legislation that was ultimately signed by Trump on Friday—Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, called the shortcomings a major failing of the legislation.
"The coronavirus pandemic is a health and economic crisis," Waldman said. "The $2 trillion dollar stimulus will help soften its effects on the American people. However, Congress failed to include sufficient, urgently needed funds in the stimulus to help states run elections in a time of pandemic. This could wreak havoc in November."
"States simply will not have the resources so people can vote safely," he warned. "Congress must do better when it composes the next stimulus package."
While state election officials from both parties have made it clear they will need federal assistance in order to "hold a safe, fair, and secure November election under pandemic conditions," Waldman said failure to provide that support could prove disastrous.
"By our estimate, state and local officials need at least $2 billion to prepare, an amount that would cover the equipment, supplies, staffing, training, and the other costs of adapting our voting processes to withstand the coronavirus," he said. "That funding is not partisan and it is not a luxury. Time remains of the essence."