On a Friday night in North Carolina that was later posted on Facebook, Trump spent the first minutes of the call explaining at length how he wanted his constituents to vote. If they are voting by mail, they should still go to their polling station to see if “your mail-in vote has been tabulated or counted,” Trump said, noting that they cannot vote if it is counted.
It is a federal crime to vote twice in the same election, and it is also a crime in almost all states, including North Carolina.
Trump also addressed the possibility of a voter’s postal vote being tabulated after they have voted in person.
“If it hasn’t been counted, you vote – it’s every citizen̵
The call confirms Trump’s earlier suggestions that voters should cast ballots twice, which would be illegal. Such attempts would almost certainly be unsuccessful, but could add further confusion over the elections already shaken by the coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented demand for mail-in voting.
As a sign of how far the president’s message had gotten, at least one North Carolina voter heard the phone after answering an unwanted call from an unknown number with a 704 area code.
The resident, who was a registered Republican for more than two decades until moving to an unaffiliated company last year, told CNN they were surprised to hear Trump’s voice when they picked up their landline phone just before 7 p.m. ET Friday.
The person who did not want to be identified said they did not expect the call to last longer than half an hour. The person said when the president started talking about postal voting he thought he might go back to his previous comments, but that wasn’t the case.
CNN has briefed the Trump campaign and the North Carolina State Board of Elections of the president’s recent remarks.
“Well, they’re going to go out and vote, and they have to check their vote by going to the vote and voting that way because if it’s tabulated, they won’t be able to.” Do that, “Trump said.” So let them send it in and put it to the vote, and if the system is as good as they say it then obviously they can’t vote. If it is not tabulated, they cannot vote. “So it is to vote. And that is exactly what they should do.”
The White House has tried to defend the president’s comments suggesting Americans are voting twice. Trump wants “disenfranchisement” and is simply trying to get Americans to “check your vote”.
“The president does not condone illegal voting,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Thursday. “The President was very clear about that.”
She claimed the media was “taking the president out of context”.
“I don’t know exactly what he said but it seems to me that he is trying to point out that the ability to oversee this system is not good,” Barr said on Wednesday. “And if it were that good if you voted a second time, you’d be caught voting in person.”
When Blitzer stated that it was illegal to double vote this way, Barr said he was unaware of any specific state laws.
Following Trump and Barr’s comments on Wednesday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold warned voters not to vote twice.
“Correcting misinformation about our elections is an important part of the work I was chosen by Coloradans to do,” Griswold said in a statement. “2020 was unprecedented in many ways, but I never thought that as Secretary of State I would have to inform both the President and the US Attorney General that it is illegal to vote twice.”
CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Katelyn Polantz, Nikki Carvajal, Sam Fossum, Maegan Vazquez and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.