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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.

Go deeper

Special report on virus-era voting: Prepare for unprecedented threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With rare, if not unprecedented, agreement, President Trump, Joe Biden, intelligence officials and Big Tech CEOs are all warning of threats to accurate and trusted vote counts before, on and after election day. 

American elections face a triple threat in 2020: 

  • Foreign governmentsespecially Russia, China and Iran — are actively spreading misinformation via social platforms.

The cracks in Trump’s GOP shield

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump’s mockery of coronavirus masks, his false claims about the dangers of voting by mail and his insinuations that a cable TV nemesis was involved in a murder are testing more high-profile Republicans' willingness to look the other way.

The big picture: Republicans learned a long time ago how dangerous it is to alienate Trump’s base — which is why any hint of disagreement, even a whisper, is so remarkable when it happens.

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that he cannot support President Trump's re-election.

Why it matters: Hogan, a moderate governor in a blue state, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.