Wednesday, September 2, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He begged his supporters to commit voter fraud, a felony.

By a slim margin, Donald Trump is losing to Joe Biden in the polls in North Carolina. There is virtually no way Trump can win the election while losing North Carolina, and so he was forced to make a campaign trip there today. While there, he had this exchange with a reporter.

Q: Six hundred thousand could vote by absentee in this state. Are you confident in that system?

TRUMP: Well, I — they'll go out and they'll vote, and then they are going to have to check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way because, uh, if it, if it tabulates then they won’t be able to do that. So, let them send it in and let them go vote. And if the system is as good as they say it is, then they obviously won’t be able to vote [in person]. If it isn’t tabulated, they will be able to vote. So that’s the way it is, and that’s what they should do.


In other words, Trump is urging people to try to vote twice, which is a federal and state felony—something voters should definitely not do. It's also illegal in North Carolina to induce other people to commit voter fraud.

Of course, normally voter fraud is incredibly rare—but then, no presidential candidate has ever gone on TV to beg his supporters to commit it.

Trump could certaibly benefit if enough of his supporters heeded his call to commit voter fraud and swamped the ballot boxes with illegitimate votes. But in the real world, this is effectively impossible. The in-person voter rolls are updated with those who have returned absentee ballots, and the most any would-be double-voter could do would be to fill out a provisional ballot. The existence of the mailed ballot would then invalidate the second ballot.

The more likely explanation is that Trump is simply trying to sow as much chaos as possible about the results of the election. Any voting irregularities—even in the form of criminal acts that would benefit him if successful—would give him an excuse to avoid conceding if he lost. This is his overall election strategy at this point in the race.

Notably, neither Trump nor the White House has yet claimed that he was "joking," the usual Trump excuse for having threatened to ignore the results of an election.

Why should I care about this?

  • Nobody tries to sabotage an election they think they will win fairly.
  • A president who won't respect the rule of law or the results of an election is a dictator.