Trump falsely claims Michigan sent absentee ballots but later replaces tweet

Posted5/24/2020 1:00 AM

President Donald Trump last week took to Twitter to criticize the Michigan secretary of state and falsely claim the state was illegally sending absentee ballots to voters ahead of this year's elections.

"Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State," Trump tweeted on Wednesday.


The president is wrong, according to The state sent registered voters an application for an absentee ballot, not the actual ballot.

Michigan's "rogue secretary of state" tweeted a response.

"Hi! I also have a name, it's Jocelyn Benson," she wrote. "And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia."

The day before Trump's tweet, Benson said Michigan would be sending the applications to 7.7 million registered voters to participate in the primary election in August and the general election in November.

"By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote," Benson said.

Trump deleted his original tweet and later replaced it, changing "absentee ballots" to "absentee ballot applications," FactCheck said.

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The president has spoken out against mail-in ballots in the past, FactCheck said. Election experts have said a mail-in voting system would not benefit one political party over the other.

Obama wasn't the first to criticize successor

Former President Barack Obama earlier this month said Trump mishandled the response to the coronavirus.

"It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster," Obama said during a call with past members of his administration.

In response, Trump retweeted a post that claimed, "Barack Hussein Obama is the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor, which was long tradition of decorum and decency." The president added, "He got caught, OBAMAGATE!"

Not so, according to Obama is far from the first. Ex-presidents criticizing their successors goes back at least as far as Herbert Hoover.


"Trump's claim is simply not true under any possible definition of 'speak against' or 'successor,'" Rutgers University historian David Greenberg told PolitiFact.

Hoover, who lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, took a shot at Roosevelt's New Deal during the 1936 Republican convention. "Their product is the poisoning of Americanism," Hoover said.

Harry Truman, who followed Roosevelt, said his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, was "using every trick and device to pry our water power, and our forest, our parks and oil reserves out of the hands of people and into the pockets of a few selfish corporations."

Since then, many ex-presidents have criticized their successors, including Gerald Ford finding fault with Jimmy Carter's anti-inflation program and Carter speaking out against Ronald Reagan's global policies.

"For much of the past century, Republicans have spoken ill of Democrats, and Democrats have done the same with Republicans," PolitiFact said.

Law won't remove people from their homes

A false claim circulating on social media says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to pass a new law that would allow people to came into your home and take family members away to be quarantined, according to The Associated Press.

Since H.R. 6666 was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 1, parts of the bill have been misrepresented online, the AP said.

Rep. Bobby Rush, a Chicago Democrat who introduced the bill, responded on his website.

"I can assure you that (the posts) are completely false," Rush said. "This bill does not authorize anyone to enter your home, for whatever reason, without your permission, nor does it allow the government to remove anyone from your home because of the coronavirus."

The bill would give $100 billion to local organizations to help with testing and contact tracing at mobile sites and door-to-door outreach in hot spots and medically underserved areas, the AP said.

No flamingos in Venice

A photo showing a large flock of flamingos congregating in the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, is fake, according to

The manipulated image, supposedly showing the birds re-emerging while Italians were quarantined, was created by digital artist Kristina Makeeva and posted on Instagram.

"Art 2020: when people stay at home -- city is filled with other residents," Makeeva captioned the piece.

Some people inquired whether it was a real photograph, Snopes said.

To a user who asked, "Is this real?" Makeeva simply replied, "No."

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at

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