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Trump Suggests Polling Place Double-Check For Mail-In Voters

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Source: Jamaica Gleaner


Image caption: Matt Born President Donald Trump talks to the crowd at Wilmington International Airport in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (AP):

President Donald Trump said Thursday that people who vote early by mail should show up at their local polling places on election day and vote again if their ballots haven’t been counted, a suggestion that experts said would lead to chaos, long lines and more work for election officials during a public health crisis.

In a series of tweets, Trump encouraged voters to go to their polling site 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”.

But information on whether a ballot has been counted is typically not available right away. In several states, absentee ballots aren’t even counted until after polls close. What can be checked is whether an absentee ballot has been received, and in some cases, whether it has passed a security review and will be submitted for counting.

Election officials warned that a flood of voters showing up on November 3 to check the status of their ballots would mean even more disruption during the coronavirus outbreak and lengthy waits. Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said it also could undermine public health efforts.

The board “strongly discourages” people from following the president’s guidance, Brinson Bell said in a statement. “That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19.”

Many states offer ways for voters to verify the status of their ballot online that provide information on when an absentee ballot request has been received, when a ballot has been sent, when the ballot has been received by a local election office and whether it has passed the security review and been accepted. These are typically available on the website of the state election board or the secretary of state.

Voters in the few states that don’t provide this information online have the option to call their local election office.

After months of claiming without proof that there would be widespread voter fraud in November, Trump on Wednesday seemed to urge absentee voters to go to their polling place on election day to see if they could vote again, as a way to test the nation’s voting system.

WIDESPREAD ALARM

The remarks drew widespread alarm from various officials and voting rights groups, saying that if voters were somehow able to cast a second ballot, they could face prosecution for voting twice.

“Let me be perfectly clear: voting twice is illegal, no matter who tells you do to it. The president’s idea is a great one for people looking to go to jail,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Karen Hobart Flynn, president of Common Cause, said: “You cannot test election integrity rules by breaking them, any more than you can rob a bank to make sure your money is safe.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany blamed the media for taking Trump’s words out of context. She said the president said mail-in voters should go to the polls to make sure their votes got tabulated, and if they weren’t, they should vote in person.

“The president does not condone unlawful voting,” McEnany said.

Trump’s tweets on Thursday appeared to be an effort to clarify the earlier remarks. But they continued to cause concern for election officials who would have to deal with voters showing up at polling places on election day to demand information on their absentee ballots.

“His statements are intended to promote widescale chaos and confusion, and would burden election officials who would be tasked with spoiling any absentee ballots cast by voters who heed his call and also vote in person,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

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