President Donald Trump told supporters in battleground state North Carolina to head to their polling place and vote after mailing their ballots—a felony, if someone succeeds in doing it—advice he had previously walked-back, after warnings from state election officials.
During the tele-rally, Trump told his supporters to sign and mail their ballots as early as possible, then on Election Day, or during early voting, to go to a polling place and try to vote.
Trump told his supporters to go to their polling place and check if their mail-in vote had been counted, “if not, vote, which is every American’s right” — then suggested that if their mail-in ballot arrives after they’ve voted, “it won’t count because your vote’s already been cast and tabulated.”
On Thursday Trump walked back his request in a series of tweets, saying voters should go to the polls only to see whether or not their votes had been counted (Twitter removed those tweets, claiming they violated their Election integrity rules).
Trump has repeatedly attacked mail-in voting despite evidence that mail-in ballot fraud rarely happens — a Washington Post analysis of three states that vote-by-mail found only 372 cases of double voting or or voting for a deceased person out of 14.6 million ballots cast during the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Efforts to expand mail-in voting have greatly increased in recent months, with officials worried that gathering at polling places could exacerbate the coronavirus pandemic. More voters than any time in U.S. history are eligible to vote by mail in the upcoming election, 76%, according to the New York Times. Nine states have proactively sent ballots to registered voters, though North Carolina isn’t one of them.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law last week that allows the state’s election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots 10 days before Election Day instead of on Election Day. The move is meant to help officials deal with the expected surge of mail-in ballots. Last month Murphy signed an executive order that would guarantee each of New Jersey’s 6.2 million registered voters would automatically get a ballot in the mail. The order also calls for hundreds of secure ballot drop-boxes to be installed in every county in the state 45 days before the election.
Attorney General William Barr has consistently echoed Trump’s stance on mail-in voting calling the practice “is very open to fraud and coercion, is reckless and dangerous,” during a CNN interview this week.