On Friday night Trump encouraged people to vote in person even if their mail-in ballots are on the way, portraying the system as untrustworthy and saying, “They’ll lose your vote.”
“So if it hasn’t been counted, if it doesn’t show up, go and vote and then if your mail-in ballot arrives after you vote — which it shouldn’t, but possibly it could, perhaps — that ballot will not be used or counted in that your vote has already been cast and tabulated,” Trump said.
“This way you’re guaranteed to have your vote counted,” he said. “So send it in and then see and then vote and let’s see what happens.”
The president and many of his supporters have opposed mail-in voting’s expansion even amid the pandemic. Trump has repeatedly warned without evidence that the shift will lead to mass fraud and has also suggested it will hurt Republicans’ chances by leading more Democrats to cast ballots.
Trump’s earlier advice to vote twice, given Wednesday at a White House event, prompted the North Carolina State Board of Elections to underscore in a statement that casting two votes or attempting to do so is a felony and that soliciting someone to double-vote is also illegal.
The board’s executive director said people should not show up at polling places to check their ballots were received, listing other ways to inquire about the status of one’s vote and saying that going in person “would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading covid-19.”
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Saturday that the president “encourages supporters to vote absentee-by-mail early, and then show up in person at the polls or the local registrar to verify that their vote has already been counted.”
“It’s amazing that the media can go from insisting that voter fraud doesn’t exist to screaming about it when President Trump points out the giant holes in the Democrats’ voting schemes,” Murtaugh said.
The Republican National Committee, which along with conservative groups has sought to limit the expansion of mail-in ballots this fall, did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting have left election officials, as well as social media platforms, rushing to combat misinformation. The president’s remarks Friday echoed Thursday tweets that Twitter flagged as violating its rules on “civic and election integrity,” specifically for “encouraging people to potentially vote twice.”
Trump also reiterated his warnings about “unsolicited ballots” in the call with supporters in North Carolina, despite the fact that the state does not send mail-in ballots unsolicited. The state also does not send unsolicited ballot applications, though some non-government groups have been mailing them.