Bill Russell goes off on Donald Trump on Twitter
Boston Celtics legend and Hall of Fame NBA center Bill Russell had a message for President Donald Trump on Thursday: stop infringing with the right to vote.
Russell tweeted at the President early on Thursday evening, saying voting by mail-in ballot should be encouraged for the 2020 General Election amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Hello @realDonaldTrump there is a good reason for #VoteByMail not sure if you have heard of #coronavirus #COVIDー19 or better known as a #pandemic bit I don’t want to risk my life to #vote ! @MSNBC @CNN
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) May 21, 2020
President Donald Trump previously threatened states like Michigan and Nevada, suggesting their federal funding would be cut if they allowed citizens to submit absentee ballots (via Zach Montellaro and Quint Forgey of Politico):
“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”
The tweet has since been deleted.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson responded to Trump’s initial tweet, saying the state had sent out applications for absentee ballots, not actual ballots.
Hi! 👋🏼 I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. https://t.co/kBsu4nHvOy
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 20, 2020
The President reiterated his concern on Thursday, though he also seemed more hesitant to expand on his initial claims on illegality (via Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press):
Speaking before taking a tour of a Ford Motor Co. plant in Ypsilanti where breathing ventilators are being made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump said Benson’s action invites corruption.
“Obviously, there’s going to be fraud,” Trump said. “We’re not babies.”
Given the uncertainty of the pandemic’s future impact, it might be dangerous for elderly persons–like Russell–to physically show at voting booths.
Submitting absentee ballots is likely to be among the more popular voting choices as citizens exercise their constitutional rights this fall, in spite of the President’s baseless claims of fraud.