President Donald Trump on Wednesday seemingly encouraged North Carolina voters to break the law by voting twice in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Speaking during his visit in the battleground state, Trump, when asked about the security of mail-in votes, suggested that people in the state vote once by mail and once in person to test the integrity of mail-in ballots, which he has claimed could lead to widespread voter fraud.
"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," the president said in an interview with WECT-TV, according to ABC 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."
The president's remarks were immediately met with backlash, including criticism from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. In a tweet, Stein said that the president had "outrageously encouraged" people in the state to "break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election."
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
Numerous outlets have since noted that Trump’s suggestion would be illegal, as it is illegal to vote twice in every state. According to ABC News, voting twice would amount to a Class I felony offense in North Carolina. Despite this, Attorney General William Barr has downplayed Trump's comments, claiming that Trump "was trying to make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good."
The president's comments mark just the latest in his claims of rampant voter fraud in mail-in voting. As more and more states vow to allow residents to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump, on numerous occasions, has condemned mail-in ballots, claiming that they will lead to "the most corrupt election" in the United States' history. In July, he even called for the election to be delayed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote."
Despite the president's concerns, both experts and election officials have pushed back against them, with Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, pointing out that mail-in voting "is something that people in this country have been doing for over a century." Meanwhile, of the nearly 30 secretaries of state and elections board offices who provided on-the-record responses to ABC News in July, none expressed concern in their state's ability to protect the integrity of their elections.