Robert Reich: The Trump Voter Fraud Paradox – OpEd


After making more than three years of unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, Trump is now warning of an even bigger theft in 2024. 

But the tactic will backfire if enough potential Trump voters decide there’s no point in voting because the game is already rigged against them. 

What’s Trump’s answer to this paradox? “We want a landslide,” Trump said at a recent rally in Greensboro, North Carolina. “We have to win so that it’s too big to rig.”

Trump has begun using the “too big to rig” phrase at campaign rallies in recent weeks to get his supporters to turn out in even larger numbers. 

Yet it’s far from clear the “too big to rig” tactic will generate enough Trump votes to compensate for all the Trump voters who will stay home because Trump has made them so cynical about voter fraud that they assume there’s no point in voting. 

I’m not at all upset about this. In fact, I applaud it. I want Trump to do whatever he can possibly do to make his followers cynical about voting. 

A similar paradox is haunting Trump’s repeated argument that Republican-controlled states could better secure their elections by insisting on single-day, in-person voting, with identification checks. 

But early voting and mail-in ballots appeal to a growing portion of the electorate — Republicans as well as Democrats. In fact, older people trend more Republican, and they’re the ones particularly attracted to early and mail-in voting. 

In 2020, Republicans fell far behind Democrats on those sorts of turnout initiatives, largely because Trump derided them as ripe for fraud. Some 60 percent of Democratic voters chose to vote by mail, while only 32 percent of Republicans did so, according to a 2021 report from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.

Yet Trump is still at it. “If you have mail-in voting, you automatically have fraud,” he said last month in a town hall hosted by Fox News.

Just as Trump’s repeated claims of election fraud may discourage Republican voters from participating in the 2024 election, his repeated insistence that early and mail-in voting invites fraud could have a similar negative effect. 

So let’s hope Trump keeps at it.

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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