President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE on Saturday urged voters to show up at polling sites in North Carolina this election cycle and ensure their mail-in votes are counted.
"NORTH CAROLINA: To make sure your Ballot COUNTS, sign & send it in EARLY. When Polls open, go to your Polling Place to see if it was COUNTED. IF NOT, VOTE!" Trump tweeted.
"Your signed Ballot will not count because your vote has been posted. Don’t let them illegally take your vote away from you!" he added.
NORTH CAROLINA: To make sure your Ballot COUNTS, sign & send it in EARLY. When Polls open, go to your Polling Place to see if it was COUNTED. IF NOT, VOTE! Your signed Ballot will not count because your vote has been posted. Don’t let them illegally take your vote away from you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2020
The tweet was later flagged by Twitter for violating the site's Civic Integrity Policy.
Trump's remarks appeared more straightforward than his past comments in which he encouraged supporters in North Carolina to attempt to vote both by mail and in person so they can test the integrity of the system.
"If it's as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote. If it isn't tabulated, they'll be able to vote. So that's the way it is. And that's what they should do," he said in the state earlier this month.
Those comments drew swift backlash, with observers noting it is illegal to vote twice in an election. In his tweet Saturday, Trump instead emphasized that supporters should check if their initial vote counted.
Still, experts say voters rushing to polling stations after already mailing ballots could delay polling stations, which are expected to employ added social distancing measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“What the president has advocated ... has the possibility of clogging the polls,” Justin Levitt, an election expert and professor at Loyola Law School, told The Hill in an interview this week.
“If you voted by mail, then there’s no reason to think that your ballot is in jeopardy. There’s no reason for you to actually go to the polls and decrease the capacity available for somebody else to vote. So he’s essentially encouraging a lot of extra traffic at the polls,” Levitt added.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) urged voters not to heed Trump's advice, saying there were more effective ways of tracking their ballots.
"NORTH CAROLINA: Do NOT do what the President directs. To make sure your ballot COUNTS, sign and send it in EARLY. Then track it ONLINE with BALLOTTRAX. Do NOT vote twice (it’s a felony), or waste your time, or unnecessarily risk exposure to more people," he tweeted.
NORTH CAROLINA: Do NOT do what the President directs. To make sure your ballot COUNTS, sign and send it in EARLY. Then track it ONLINE with BALLOTTRAX. Do NOT vote twice (it’s a felony), or waste your time, or unnecessarily risk exposure to more people. https://t.co/jOKYoR4hnr https://t.co/1cF6tJoHA4— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) September 12, 2020
The focus on North Carolina specifically comes as the Tarheel State is set to be a key battleground up and down the ballot this year, with competitive Senate and gubernatorial races.
Polling has shown Trump neck and neck with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE there, and Democrats are waging a court battle to maintain an injunction on a state law that would require residents to have a photo ID to vote, saying lifting the injunction would mainly hurt voters of color.