Trump Says People Should Try to Vote Twice — by Mail and in Person — to Check If the 'System' Is 'Good'
It is illegal to vote more than once in an election, but the White House insisted Trump was being taken out of context
While visiting North Carolina on Wednesday, Trump — who has frequently criticized mail-in voting, claiming widespread fraud that experts say doesn't exist — said that residents should try to vote twice in November, once by mail and then again in person, in case their mail ballot wasn't counted.
In keeping with his history of claims without evidence, Trump gave no basis for his theory mail ballots won't be counted.
He has previously said the problem with mail ballots would be that there would be too many of them and even dogs and dead people might be able to vote — not that ballots would be ignored.
It is illegal to vote more than once in an election.
"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, 74, said when asked about the mail-in voting system in North Carolina, according to NBC News.
"If it'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. So that's the way it is. And that's what they should do," he added.
On Twitter Thursday, Trump expanded his argument, mixing together some of his earlier claims:
"[I]n order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED, SIGN & MAIL IN your Ballot as EARLY as possible 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)."
Twitter put a disclaimer on some of Trump's above tweets, saying they violated a policy "about civic and election integrity."
Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, issued a statement Thursday morning warning that voting twice is a felony under North Carolina law.
"The State Board has a dedicated investigations team that investigates allegations of double voting, which are referred to prosecutors when warranted," Bell said, according to NPR.
North Carolina's attorney general, Josh Stein, similarly criticized the president's remarks.
"Today, President Trump outrageously encouraged NCians to break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election," Stein wrote. "Make sure you vote, but do NOT vote twice! I will do everything in my power to make sure the will of the people is upheld in November."
Trump has repeatedly criticized mail-in voting, an option that states across the country have considered expanding amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
His re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee have even sued states who have made moves to expand access to mail-in voting due to the pandemic, including Nevada, New Jersey and Montana.
White House spokesman Judd Deere told NPR in a statement on Thursday that the media was taking the president's North Carolina remarks out of context.
"No one has fought harder for an election system that is fair and free from fraud and abuse than President Trump," Deere said. "This idea that he is encouraging people to vote twice is yet another example of the media taking him out of context."