President Donald Trump suggested during his visit to Wilmington Wednesday that people should vote twice this election – once by mail and again in person. His remarks came in response to a question about absentee voting:
State Rep. Deb Butler, who represents Wilmington, tweeted in response:
— Deb Butler (@DebButlerHD18) September 3, 2020
Greg Flynn, Wake County’s Elections Board Chair, offered this warning:
FYI in NC it is a felony to vote more than one time in the same election or to induce another to do so.
NC GS 163-275(7)
— greg flynn (@gregflynn) September 3, 2020
UC Irvine Election Law Expert Rick Hasen agreed with Flynn, noting under North Carolina law, what Trump has suggested is illegal. At Election Law Blog, Hasen explains:
Was Trump by his comments “induc[ing]” “with intent to commit fraud” a person to “vote” “more than one time” “in the same …. election”? I think a case could be made that he did. He was encouraging people to vote both by mail and in person. The questionable part is about his intent. It sounds like he was suggesting an attempt at double voting as a means of testing the integrity of the system, or assuring that his voters can cast at least one ballot for him. Is that a fraudulent intent? I could see how a jury could find it to be so especially given Trump’s other statements suggesting he believes that such double voting would not be caught by election officials.
Another possible defense is that Trump was “joking” or not being serious about his comments, and this was typical Trumpian hyperbole. Perhaps so, but I think many people may hear his comments and think he is serious. At the very least, this is now going to create a headache for election administrators in North Carolina (and potentially elsewhere) to admonish voters not to try to do this and muck up the system.
Federal law also makes it a crime for a person to vote more than once in a federal election.
I don’t expect Trump to be prosecuted for this statement but it is a terrible thing to encourage voter fraud—especially by someone who consistently makes claims that it is rampant in the U.S. (it’s not).
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