RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina State Board of Elections had a swift response to President Donald Trump’s Wednesday comments about ensuring absentee votes count in November. Trump’s statement came just as North Carolina is set to mail out the first ballots in the country.
“It is illegal to vote twice in an election. N.C.G.S. § 163-275(7) makes it a Class I felony for a voter, with intent to commit a fraud to register or vote at more than one precinct or more than one time…in the same primary or election,” an NCSBE statement said. “Attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so also is a violation of North Carolina law.”
Attorney Robert Joyce with the UNC School of Government added: “It’s a concern to me that people may be committing felonies. Don’t vote twice. Don’t vote in somebody else’s name, don’t vote in a place where you’re not eligible to vote, these are felonies don’t do them.”
The concern stemmed from Trump’s statement during his Wednesday stop in Wilmington.
“On your ballots, if you get the unsolicited ballots, send it in, and then go make yours counted. And if it doesn’t tabulate your vote, you just vote. And then if they tabulated very late, which they shouldn’t be doing, they’ll see you voted and so it won’t count,” Trump said. “So, send it in early, and then go and vote.”
The White House walked back on that statement on Thursday.
“The President does not condone unlawful voting. He’s made that very clear. So, once again, I’m not surprised the media is taking what the President said out of context,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Some political scientists argued it is part of Trump’s strategy should he lose the election.
“He’ll claim he was robbed and there will be a significant number of people, because they have bought into this series of statements, that will believe the same thing the President believes,” said David McLennan with Meredith College.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the state’s law is clear.
“I was both outraged and really disheartened,” he said. “It’s against the law to vote twice. The President is wrong to tell people to both vote by mail and then try to go vote in person. The sad thing is people go and follow his advice and they’re committing a felony.”
Stein and the NCSBE also reminded voters Thursday that not only do they believe voting is secure, but that you can track your ballot online. You can see if it’s been mailed to you, if the local Board of Elections has received it back, and if it’s been counted.
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