With the 2020 election rapidly approaching and no end to COVID-19 in sight, many Americans intend to vote by mail, allowing them to exercise their democratic voice while also ensuring they avoid contracting the deadly virus at a crowded polling place.
President Trump, rather than encouraging this safe and secure voting method in the interest of saving lives, has been lying about it for months now, claiming that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary. It’s a paranoid conspiracy theory that Trump and the GOP are peddling in the hopes of depressing voter turnout and keeping this disastrous president in power.
Yesterday, Trump took his mail-in voting rhetoric to a stunning new low. During an interview in North Carolina, the president encouraged his supporters to illegally vote twice.
“Let them send it in and let them go vote. And if the system is 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,” said the president, perhaps trying to make a point or perhaps genuinely hoping that his MAGA acolytes will execute fraud on his behalf in November.
The remarks prompted North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein to pen a tweet slamming Trump for encouraging citizens to “break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election.” Stein urged North Carolinians to vote, but only once.
Today, President Trump outrageously encouraged NCians to break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election. 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.
— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) September 2, 2020
Now, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has waded into the controversy. Karen Brinson Bell, the Director of the NCSBE, released a statement reminding Americans that casting two votes in the same election is a serious felony. “Attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so also is a violation of North Carolina law,” wrote Bell, seemingly indicating that Trump himself broke the law. She went on to explain that anyone who requested an absentee by-mail ballot can instead choose to vote in person, but if they do so they must discard their absentee ballot rather than send it in.
Bell went on to say that the voting system in North Carolina is set up in such a way that those who choose to break the law and vote twice will likely be caught. The State Board has a “dedicated investigations team” that looks into possible cases of double voting and which has the power to refer incidents to prosecutors.
“If a voter tries to check in who has already voted, they will be prevented from voting a regular ballot. A voter will be offered a provisional ballot if they insist on voting, and this ballot will be researched after Election Day to determine whether it should be counted,” she said. “Also, the State Board conducts audits after each election that check voter history against ballots cast and would detect if someone tries to vote more than once in an election. Because absentee ballots and early voting ballots are retrievable, if someone tries to get around the system, their ballot can be retrieved and not counted, so it will not affect the outcome of an election,” she added, noting that cases could be referred to prosecutors in cases of double voting,” added Bell.
It should go without saying, but state election boards and state AGs shouldn’t be forced to release these kinds of statements. They shouldn’t have to fight back against a president encouraging blatantly illegal acts to undermine the election. Unfortunately, this is just par for the course for Donald Trump. The man sees the law as nothing but an inconvenience, something to be ignored and ridden over roughshod in his unending quest to increase and solidify his own power. At this point, anyone who votes for this man is signaling that they simply don’t care about flagrant criminality.
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