The head of the North Carolina Board of Elections reminded voters on Thursday that double voting is illegal, a day after the president of the United States suggested citizens in the state to try to do it as a means of testing their elections system.
“It is illegal to vote twice in an election,” Karen Brinson Bell said in a statement, explaining that double voting is a felony.
Her comments came after the president suggested during a trip to Wilmington, North Carolina, on Wednesday that people should try to test the system there by voting by mail in the upcoming presidential election and then trying to vote in person on Election Day to make sure it’s counted — although it is illegal to vote twice.
“So let them send it in, and let them go vote,” said Trump. “If their system is as good as they say it is, obviously, they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote. So that’s the way it is and that’s what they should do.”
Trump’s latest comments come as part of a larger narrative he has constructed in recent months to cast doubt on the validity of mail-in voting and claim it is riddled with massive fraud, despite no evidence of that being true.
On Thursday, the president tried to explain his comments via social media, writing on Facebook and Twitter that people should go to their polling place to inquire if their mail-in vote has already been tabulated and, if not, try to vote again.
But current delays in the postal system, as well as differing laws in states on the date up until which mail-in ballots can be received, may mean some voters who follow the president’s advice might end up facing criminal action if they cast two ballots.
In an attempt to factcheck Trump, a compulsive liar who has continually displayed little understanding of how government works, Facebook moderators added a label to the president’s comments on Thursday.
“Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year,” read a disclaimer added by Facebook as part of its attempts to stop disinformation and misinformation.
However, the company appeared not to be abiding by the standards they outlined earlier that same day by not removing the post altogether, given CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s stated commitment to remove “misrepresentations about voting.”
Facebook has not yet responded to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment on why the post was not removed.
On Twitter, the company added disclaimers to Trump’s Thursday tweets, stating that they violated their rules “about civic and election integrity.” However, Twitter did not remove the tweets, citing “public interest” that they remain accessible to users.
“The laws regarding the invalidation of mail-in ballots when individuals choose to vote in person are complex, and vary significantly by state,” the company said. “Our goal is to prevent people from sharing advice about voting twice, which may be illegal.”
“To protect people on Twitter, we err on the side of limiting the circulation of Tweets which advise people to take actions which could be illegal in the context of voting or result in the invalidation of their votes.”
Attorney General Bill Barr refused to point out that his boss had encouraged Americans to potentially break the law, telling CNN: “I don’t know what the law in a particular state says and when that vote becomes final.”
“The president is not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday, despite him having done precisely that.
The North Carolina Board of Elections site now has a new banner in red across it, warning voters “DOUBLE VOTING IS ILLEGAL.”
The statement from the North Carolina State Board of Elections executive director highlighted all the ways states prevent double voting. “The State Board has a dedicated investigations team that investigates allegations of double voting, which are referred to prosecutors when warranted,” said Brinson Bell.
She also warned against people turning up the polls on ballot day if they have already sent their ballot — a direct contrast to the president’s comments.
“The State Board office strongly discourages people from showing up at the polls on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot was counted,” said Brinson Bell. “That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19.”
The North Carolina elections site says that more than 600,000 absentee ballots for the general election have so far been requested in the state.