LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- President Donald Trump expressed his feelings about Nevada's June mail-in primary Wednesday morning, calling the ballots "illegal" and threatening to withhold funds to the state.
In a tweet around 6:10 a.m. May 20, Trump called vote-by-mail ballots "illegal" and said it could lead to "a great Voter Fraud scenario."
State of Nevada “thinks” that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, “I think” I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections. @RussVought45 @USTreasury
State of Nevada “thinks” that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, “I think” I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections. @RussVought45 @USTreasury— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
It wasn't immediately clear what funds the President was referring to.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske announced Tuesday Nevada's 2020 primary election will be entirely by mail.
In March, the Nevada Secretary of State announced the move to an entirely mail-in ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, the Secretary of State's office touted the lawfulness of the move to a mail-in primary:
In March 2020, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and following state and federal guidance and emergency directives, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, in partnership with Nevada’s 17 county election officials, made the necessary and prudent decision to conduct the 2020 primary election using mail-in ballots. This decision, which was not made lightly, both ensured the primary election could move forward as scheduled and provided a way to protect the health and safety of voters and election workers in Nevada.
For over a century, Nevadans, including members of the military, citizens residing outside the state, voters in designated mailing precincts, and voters requesting absentee ballots, have been voting by mail with no evidence of election fraud. All 17 counties have established processes and procedures in place for safe and secure mail-in voting.
Secretary Cegavske lawfully declared the 2020 primary election as a mail-in election. In a recent court order, a federal judge ruled that Secretary Cegavske lawfully exercised authority granted to her by state law to call for a primary election conducted primarily by mail ballot.
Nevada has many safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of an all-mail election, including signature requirements and verification processes, preprinted ballot return envelopes, barcode tracking, and laws against ballot harvesting. Voters concerned with mailing in their ballot may drop off their ballot at any designated drop-off location in their county.
Gov. Steve Sisolak called Trump's comments "inappropriate and outrageous":
Nevada is widely recognized as being a national leader in election administration, and we will continue to support the safest, most accessible election possible under these unprecedented circumstances. For the President to threaten federal funding in the midst of a pandemic over a state exercising its authority to run elections in a safe and legal manner is inappropriate and outrageous.
Rep. Dina Titus also responded with a message on Twitter:
Trump is threatening to harm Nevadans because our Republican Secretary of State is making it easier for them to vote. The President doesn’t care about the Constitution or apparently Nevadans' safety. He'll do anything to distract the public from his incompetent COVID-19 response.— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) May 20, 2020
Trump has yet to comment further on Nevada's primary election as of Wednesday afternoon, but later tweeted something similar about Michigan's mail-in primary plans.