Twitter put a new label on one of Donald Trump's tweets Sunday morning, in which the president claimed without any evidence that mail drop boxes allow people to vote multiple times. It was the latest in Trump's attacks on mail-in voting, which more Americans are expected to use this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tweet also came while the Trump campaign is suing Pennsylvania over its use of ballot drop boxes.
"So now the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster," Trump tweeted. "Among other things, they make it possible for a person to vote multiple times. Also, who controls them, are they placed in Republican or Democrat areas? They are not COVID sanitized. A big fraud!" The tweet is still available, but it includes a label from Twitter that reads, "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible." In a separate tweet, Twitter said Trump's message included "misleading health claims" which could "potentially dissuade people from voting."
We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting. https://t.co/MA6E7mBpkm— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 23, 2020
The president has repeatedly spoken out against mail-in voting, suggesting it creates widespread voter fraud without any evidence. In the Trump campaign's lawsuit against Pennsylvania, they are trying to stop the use of drop boxes because of the alleged fraud. The federal judge in the case, appointed by Trump, asked the campaign to show evidence of fraud, but the campaign refused to do so, reports Talking Points Memo. Instead, the campaign argued that the fact that fraud could happen was enough to stop the boxes from being used.
The part of Trump's tweet alleging that people could get the coronavirus just by touching the boxes confused some scientists who spoke with CNN. Erin Bromage, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, said people could just wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after touching the boxes to "completely minimize the risk of infection." In addition, the CDC said the coronavirus mostly spreads from person to person and the situation with the highest risk of transmission is when people are gathered into indoor spaces. "While there is a theoretical possibility for viral transfer from a voting drop box, in reality, the chances of this occurring and it leads to an infection are low," Bromage explained.
This was not the first time Twitter has flagged Trump's tweets. In May, Twitter said two of Trump's tweets about mail-in voting were "potentially misleading" and were labeled to "provide additional context around mail-in ballots." This began a feud between Twitter and Trump and Republicans. The president responded to the labels by signing an executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.