Trump encourages mail voting in key battleground Florida

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President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for H.R. 1957 "The Great American Outdoors Act," in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – In an abrupt reversal, President Donald Trump now is encouraging voters in the critical swing state of Florida to vote by mail after months of criticizing the practice, and only days after threatening to sue Nevada over a new vote-by-mail law.

His encouragement follows a surge in Democratic requests to vote for mail in Florida, a state that Trump almost certainly must win to secure a second term. Democrats currently have about 1.9 million Floridians signed up to vote by mail this November, almost 600,000 more than the Republicans’ 1.3 million, according to the Florida Secretary of State.

In 2016, both sides had about 1.3 million signed up before the general election.

“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany rejected the notion that the president has changed his views. She said he supports absentee voting by mail for a reason, as opposed to states mailing out ballots to all voters regardless of whether they requested them. Most election officials say there is little effective difference between absentee voting and voting by mail.

Trump elaborated on why he supports voting by mail in Florida, but not elsewhere.

“They’ve been doing this over many years and they’ve made it really terrific," Trump said.

“This took years to do," he added. "This doesn’t take weeks or months. In the case of Nevada, they’re going to be voting in a matter of weeks. And you can’t do that.”