After years of falsely claiming America's elections are riddled with fraud, President Donald Trump is now publicly urging Americans to commit fraud in the upcoming election. At a campaign stop this week, Trump encouraged people to vote twice — once in person and once by mail — to test election security. That's right: This self-proclaimed champion of "law and order" is publicly goading citizens to commit a crime.
Trump has been undermining public trust in the sanctity of America's elections since his 2016 campaign, in which he publicly encouraged Russia to interfere by hacking Hillary Clinton's emails. After Trump became one of the few presidents ever to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, he set out to soothe his bruised ego by falsely blaming it on mass illegal voting by undocumented immigrants. He even appointed a voter-fraud commission in a doomed attempt to prove it. His quest to undermine the nation's most sacred right has often verged on the ridiculous, as when he claimed people could vote multiple times by switching hdats.
The facts have never backed up Trump's persistent claim that mail-in voting is inherently fraudulent. Many states have done it for years in various forms — including absentee ballots like the one Trump himself has used — with no evidence that it's less secure than in-person voting. But with polls showing Trump's reelection bid in trouble, and with the pandemic likely to prevent many people from voting in person, Trump has dug in on his strategy of trying to delegitimize mail-in voting.
That was the clear motive behind his stunning suggestion, during a visit to North Carolina Wednesday, that voters should intentionally commit voter fraud. When a local television reporter asked Trump whether he has confidence in the mail-in vote system, Trump responded: "Let them send it [their ballots] in and let them go vote [at the polls], and if their system's as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote." Lest anyone think this was just an off-the-cuff outrage, Trump on Thursday repeated the suggestion in a tweet, which was promptly flagged by Twitter as a violation of its "Civic Integrity Policy."
Intentional double voting is a crime regardless of motivation; in many states, including North Carolina, it's a felony. There's no reason to believe such a stunt would work, since voter-registration systems are designed to prevent double voting, though it's true a double vote wouldn't necessarily be flagged until all the mail-in ballots were counted. So Trump has inadvertently made the case here for waiting until all the counting is done before drawing any conclusions. That's good advice. If only it wasn't the opposite of his repeated assertion that only votes tallied on Election Night should count.
Just because Trump routinely pardons criminals who serve his interests doesn't mean the average citizen could expect the same favor. Obviously, Americans should vote just once — and hopefully not for the candidate who is encouraging them to break the law.
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