Officials in North Carolina are scrambling to counteract President Donald Trump’s call for residents of the state to attempt to vote twice in the upcoming contest for the White House, issuing a notice on Thursday warning voters that doing so intentionally is a felony.
President Donald Trump answers a question about his chances of winning in North Carolina. He suggests that people vote by mail then go to their local polling place and if their vote isn’t tabulated, they should vote again, at Wilmington International Airport in North Carolina.
Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said in the memo to voters that the board also discouraged people from showing up at polling sites on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot had been counted.
“That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19,” Brinson Bell wrote.
North Carolina, a crucial swing state that Trump carried in 2016 and Barack Obama narrowly won in 2008, is due to begin sending out absentee ballots on Friday. Trump is nearly neck and neck with Democrat Joe Biden in the state, according to recent polling.
The president, who has for years spread baseless conspiracy theories about rampant voter fraud, on Wednesday encouraged North Carolina voters to test the state’s election apparatus by attempting to cast multiple ballots, which is a crime.
“So 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 of voters who cast mail-in ballots. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote.”
Trump doubled down on his misinformation campaign in Twitter posts sent on Thursday morning, urging voters who send in mail-in ballots to go to their polling place on Election Day “to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted).”
“If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do),” he wrote.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told Fox News on Thursday that the president was “not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful.”
“What he said very clearly there is make sure your vote is tabulated and if it is not then vote,” she said.
Brinson Bell said that there were “numerous checks” in place to prevent individuals from voting twice.
“Electronic pollbooks with information about who has already voted are used at every early voting site. If a voter tries to check in who has already voted, they will be prevented from voting a regular ballot,” she said. “A voter will be offered a provisional ballot if they insist on voting, and this ballot will be researched after Election Day to determine whether it should be counted.”
Brinson Bell encouraged residents who wanted to verify that their ballot was counted to check the Board of Election’s website, where they can track their vote “much like they can track their online order or pizza delivery.”
“North Carolina elections officials encourage voters to request their ballot as soon as possible and return it as soon as they are ready to do so,” she said. “By doing so, you can track your ballot and ensure your vote counts.”
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