For months, President Trump has broadcast the false threat of fraudulent mail-in ballots as part of a clear attempt to limit voter turnout and cast doubt on the results of the election in advance of a potential loss. Now, to help protect against the trumped-up menace of voting fraud, he is encouraging Americans to commit voting fraud.
On Wednesday, when a reporter informed him that as many as 600,000 voters could vote absentee in North Carolina, the president said, “I don’t like that” and proposed a trial-by-fire for the state’s mail-in system. “Let them send it in and let them go vote [in person] and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” Trump said. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote.” On the tarmac in Wilmington upon a visit to the swing state, Trump provided similar advice to break the law. “Send it in early and then go and vote,” he 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.”
Intentionally voting twice is a felony in most states, including North Carolina. But in an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr declined to comment on Trump’s illegal counsel, saying that he did not know the law in North Carolina. He did, however, repeat the falsehood of mass vote-tampering, claiming that mail ballots are “very open to fraud and coercion, is reckless and dangerous, and people are playing with fire.”
While harmful comments from the president are a common and relatively easy-to-dismiss phenomenon at this point, the Trump administration has taken several critical steps to limit voting by mail, from suing states that have expanded mail-in-ballot access to attempting to block funding for the United States Postal Service, which would carry out what is expected to be the largest absentee election in U.S. history.