President Donald Trump once again told Americans to vote twice during a rally in Pennsylvania, his latest effort to undermine an expected surge in mail-in ballots this November.
Speaking to a crowd at a nearly two-hour rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the president criticized efforts to keep voters safe during the election amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 6 million people in the U.S.
“These mail-in ballots are a disgrace, and they know it,” Trump said Thursday of states that have extended absentee voting provisions. He went on to urge members of the crowd to send in their absentee ballots, then suggested they vote again in person and leave it up to election officials to weed out the duplicates.
“What you have to do is send in your early ballot and then go and make sure that ballot is tabulated or counted, and if it’s not counted, vote,” he said. “And then they have the job, if it comes in late, or if it’s not too late, they have the job of making sure that it’s not counted.”
Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, weighed in on the matter moments later on Twitter, saying the state’s election laws were clear: “One person, one vote.”
Just a day earlier, Trump told supporters in North Carolina that they should test the security of their electoral system and vote twice — which, again, is illegal — and prompted urgent warnings from lawmakers and election officials to counter the disinformation coming from the president.
“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,” Trump said Wednesday in a briefing with reporters. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote.”
“That’s the way it is,” he said later. “And that’s what they should do.”
The North Carolina State Board of Elections issued a terse statement after those comments, reminding residents it’s a felony to vote more than once and that there are strong election protocols in place to prevent double votes.
The president has spent years spreading lies about widespread voter fraud to justify his loss of the popular vote in 2016 to Hillary Clinton. More recently, he has railed against mail-in voting after many states said they would make it much easier for voters to cast ballots from home. In some states, like California and New Jersey, all registered voters will be mailed ballots even if they don’t request them.
“Now they want to send out 80 million unsolicited ballots … [to] people that weren’t going to vote,” Trump said at his rally Thursday. “It’s really unfair because we have enthusiasm. They have no enthusiasm, so that’s unfair.”
The number of Americans eligible to vote from home is the highest in history, with nearly three-quarters of people able to do so without an excuse.
Voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States, despite Trump’s claims.
The White House went on the defense this week, however, saying the president was not encouraging voters to cast ballots twice, just to ensure the ones they had cast were counted.
“The president is not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News. “What he said very clearly there is make sure your vote is tabulated, and if it is not, then vote.”