Updated Sep 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump suggests people in N.C. vote twice to test mail-in system

 President Trump makes a speech at the U.S.S. Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II

President Trump makes a speech at the U.S.S. Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump suggested during a visit to North Carolina that people should vote once by mail and again in person during the election.

What he's saying: "Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system's as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote," he said. "If it isn't tabulated, they'll be able to vote. And that’s what they should do."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Margaret Talev: North Carolina is a key battleground state. Trump won it in 2016, but the latest RealClearPolitics polling average shows the state is up for grabs.

  • Trump's comments have shock value not only because he is a sitting president encouraging Americans to violate the law but because Trump himself has made such a talking point out of his fears that mail-in voting could be susceptible to fraud.

The big picture: Many states have expanded mail-in voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Trump has for months cast doubt on mail-in voting, making baseless claims that increased mail-in ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud.
  • The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the state of Montana after Gov. Steve Bullock (D) last month issued a directive allowing counties to expand mail-in and early voting.

Of note: Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh issued a statement defending the president's comments and describing laws that expand vote-by-mail as "radical."

  • "The president is now drawing attention to the reckless election law tampering Democrats are doing in states across the country, creating the very real opportunity for people to vote twice, as we know happened in Philadelphia," Murtaugh said.
  • It's unclear what case Murtaugh was specifically referring to. But Domenick J. Demuro, a former elections judge in Philadelphia, was convicted in May after admitting accepting cash bribes to tamper with the results of the city's primary elections from 2014 to 2016.

Go deeper: When and how to vote in all 50 states

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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