The President has frequently made unproven claims that American elections are rife with voter fraud and has said he lost the popular vote in the 2016 election due to fraudulent ballots being cast. Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States and there was no evidence that there was mass fraud in the 2016 race.
“Gotta be careful with those ballots. Watch those ballots. I don’t like it. You know, you have a Democrat governor, you have all these Democrats watching that stuff. I don’t like it,” Trump said at a rally in Winston-Salem Tuesday evening.
“Watch it,” he continued. “Be poll watchers when you go there. Watch all the thieving and stealing and robbing they do. Because this is important. We win North Carolina, we win.”
The incendiary rhetoric and encouragement of his supporters to confront Democrats on Election Day comes at a time of increased political violence with clashes between Trump supporters and leftist protesters in Oregon and Wisconsin resulting in arrests, assaults and multiple deaths in recent weeks.
At the North Carolina rally on Tuesday — his third visit to state in as many weeks — the President also instructed the crowd of thousands, “Make sure you send the ballot and then go to your polling place and make sure it counts. Make sure it counts, because the only way they can win is by doing very bad things, that’s the only way.”
Trump also attempted to draw a line between solicited and unsolicited mail-in ballots, suggesting that solicited ballots are more secure. But a distinction does not exist, except in the means by which one acquires the ballot itself.
“Well, they’ll go out and they’ll go vote, and they’re going to have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way, because if it tabulates then they won’t be able to do that,” Trump told a local North Carolina news station on Wednesday. “So let them send it in, and let them go vote, and if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated they won’t be able to vote, so that’s the way it is. And that’s what they should do.”
It’s a federal crime to vote twice in the same election, and it’s also a felony in almost every state, including North Carolina.
Trump also addressed the possibility that a voter’s mail-in ballot would be tabulated after they had voted in person.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told CNN in a statement on Friday, “President Trump encourages supporters to vote absentee-by-mail early, and then show up in person at the polls or the local registrar to verify that their vote has already been counted.”
CNN’s DJ Judd, Dianne Gallagher, Caroline Kelly, Marshall Cohen and Brian Rokus contributed to this report.