“Based on the massive number of Unsolicited & Solicited Ballots that will be sent to potential Voters for the upcoming 2020 Election, & in order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED, SIGN & MAIL IN your Ballot as EARLY as possible,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “On Election Day, or Early Voting, go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do).”
Following his advice, he said, would ensure “THAT YOUR PRECIOUS VOTE HAS BEEN COUNTED, it hasn’t been ‘lost, thrown out, or in any way destroyed.’ ”
His tweets came shortly after a television appearance in which White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted that Trump was not calling on voters to break the law.
“The president is not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful,” McEnany said during an appearance on Fox News. “What he said very clearly there is make sure your [mail-in] vote is tabulated, and if it is not, then vote.”
“He wants verification,” McEnany continued. “Democrats want a whole new fraudulent system of mail-in voting never tried before in American history, and what Democrats are saying to you is, ‘Trust us, but don’t verify.’ What this president is saying is verify your vote.”
Trump’s comments Wednesday generated enough confusion that the N.C. Board of Elections issued a statement saying that it is a Class 1 felony to intentionally vote twice. The board also noted that it is illegal to solicit someone to vote twice.
In a statement, Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the board, also discouraged voters from coming to the polls on Election Day to verify that their mail-in ballots had been counted.
“The State Board office strongly discourages people from showing up at the polls on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot was counted,” Bell said. “This is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19.”
Separately, Facebook announced that it would delete a video of Trump’s original comments.
“This video violates our policies prohibiting voter fraud and we will remove it unless it is shared to correct the record,” the company said in a statement.
The president, who has claimed that the 2020 election will be rife with fraud and rigged against him because of greater mail-in voting during the pandemic, was asked Wednesday by a television reporter in North Carolina whether he had confidence in the system.
“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote,” Trump said.
The president also greeted supporters on the tarmac upon landing in Wilmington, N.C., and made nearly identical comments, encouraging them to send in their ballot “and then go in and vote.”
“So send it in early and then go and vote,” Trump said. “You can’t let them take your vote away; these people are playing dirty politics. So if you have an absentee ballot . . . you send it in, but I’d check it, follow it and go vote.”
Trump has insisted, without evidence, that widespread mail-in voting, expanded in many states to accommodate fears around the coronavirus pandemic, will result in corruption, miscounting and delays, making it impossible to know who won the November election.
Attorney General William P. Barr was asked during a CNN interview to respond to Trump’s comments in North Carolina, particularly the suggestion that voters partake in illegal activity. Barr skirted the question, saying he didn’t know the election laws in every state. He then echoed Trump’s rhetoric, claiming that widespread vote-by-mail “is very open to fraud and coercion, is reckless and dangerous, and people are playing with fire.”
The data in states that already have universal mail-in voting doesn’t back up Trump or Barr’s claims. A Washington Post analysis of three vote-by-mail states found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who was asked broadly about voting issues Wednesday during a local Atlanta television interview, accused Trump of “trying to delegitimize” the election results and urged people to“vote as early as you are permitted to be able to do.”
“The way to overcome this is to vote. Vote, vote, vote. And there’s not a shred of evidence, not a shred of evidence that mail-in voting is fraudulent,” Biden said. “Not a shred.”