President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters (more than once) to vote twice in the November election, once by mail and again at a polling station. He reasoned that the U.S. Postal Service is unreliable. A way for a voter to check to see if his/her local registrar of voters has received their mailed-in ballot is to try voting a second time. If the mailed-in ballot was received and registered, then the polling station should be able to tell the voter that he/she had already voted and cannot vote again. 

This presidential advice is troubling for several reasons, not the least of which is having the president encourage naïve voters to engage in what, in many states, is felony criminal conduct. Every state has an elected secretary of state who is responsible for assuring voting integrity. It is not up to individual citizens to test the reliability of ballot registrations by the local registrar of voters. The law allows for voters to cast a provisional ballot at a polling place if he/she suspects that their mailed-in ballot did not make it to the local registrar’s office. The voter needs to say upfront at the polling station, however, that he/she had submitted a mail-in ballot but feared that it was never received by the local registrar’s office. Simply voting twice to test whether the registrar’s office had a record of receiving the mailed-in ballot is against the law and severely punished. 

Registrars of both political parties were upset by this advice from Trump to his supporters. They were upset because this advice will add to their workload, will decrease public confidence in the integrity of the election and will increase voter fraud. Post-vote audits will likely show that Trump supporters were more likely to vote twice than Biden supporters, but either way, the increased evidence of fraud will support Trump’s claim that the final results were tainted by fraud rather than a fair representation of the electorate’s preferences. 

Winners do not characterize elections this way. This is just one more sign that Trump is expecting to lose this November’s election.

William McCarthy

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