Would you support Trump if he signed a nationwide voter ID law?
President Trump threw his support behind laws requiring valid identification to vote, arguing that such a move would ensure the “safety and sanctity of our voting system.”
Mr. Trump also called for using paper ballots as a backup, tweeting Tuesday afternoon that the method is “old fashioned but true!” He sent the tweet after giving a speech in Virginia.
The president has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that large numbers of people have voted illegally in U.S. elections. There is no indication that voter fraud has occurred on a broad scale. Opponents of voter-ID measures say efforts to enact identification requirements represent a veiled effort to suppress votes by creating hurdles for people who lack IDs, many of whom advocates say are disproportionately lower-income and people of color.
Congress is still grappling with how to improve election security three years after a widespread Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. In testimony on Capitol Hill last week, former special counsel Robert Mueller warned Moscow’s efforts to interfere in U.S. elections were continuing. “They are doing it while we sit here,” he said. “And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”
The House passed legislation in June that would provide more funding for election security and require the use of paper ballots—widely viewed by cybersecurity experts as among the best ways to guard against potential vote tampering. Senate Republicans have blocked votes on the legislation, saying that the money already awarded hasn’t been spent and that paper ballots could pose problems of their own.
Dozens of states have enacted some form of voter-identification requirement, with advocates saying such measures help minimize the risk of voting fraud. The issue remains highly controversial and has led to several court fights.
Mr. Trump has called for the adoption of voting machines with auditable paper trails before, but Tuesday was the first time the president did so on his preferred medium, according to a review of his Twitter postings. His tweet Tuesday appeared to link paper ballots with GOP pushes for more stringent voter-ID requirements.
“These are really two separate issues,” said David Becker, a former Justice Department official and founder of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research. “The voter-ID issue won’t do anything to prevent foreign interference in our elections, but providing funding to replace the few remaining paperless voting systems and audit those systems could be very helpful if the president wants to support providing resources to the states to do that.”
Nationwide, nearly every state has taken steps toward instituting more paper-supported machinery since 2016, but Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina still rely on paperless digital voting equipment. Another 10 states include some precincts that don’t offer paper trails, according to a new report on threats to the 2020 election from the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. Many cash-strapped states also rely on old voting equipment that can suffer routine Election Day malfunctions.
This week, Georgia said it had awarded a $107 million contract for 30,000 new voting machines to an election vendor that will replace the state’s old paperless equipment with new touch-screen systems that print out paper ballots.