Trump urges supporters to watch ballots after Wallace asks if he’ll urge calm

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President Trump on Tuesday night cited concerns over the use of mail-in ballots in dodging a question on whether he would wait to declare victory until a full vote count was completed. 

When asked by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace during the first presidential debate on whether he would urge his supporters to “stay calm” during an extended counting process due to an influx of mail-in ballots, Trump said they should “watch very carefully” the counting of ballots.

“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that is what needs to happen, I am urging them to do it,” Trump said during the closing minutes of the debate. “I hope it’s going to be a fair election, and if it’s a fair election, I am 100 percent on board, but if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

Trump cited concerns over mail-in ballot fraud, pointing specifically to a seven military ballots cast for Trump that the Justice Department said last week were found discarded in a district in Pennsylvania. Trump described this incident as “cheating.”

Trump has railed against the process of mail-in voting over the past months, citing mostly unsubstantiated concerns about fraud. Trump and first lady Melania Trump sent in absentee ballots during the Florida primary election earlier this year. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked the same question by Wallace during a larger segment of the debate focused on election integrity. Biden noted early in the segment that multiple states have used majority mail-in voting prior to 2020. 

Biden also pointed to concerns that in some states, election officials are prohibited from opening and counting mail-in ballots until Election Day.

“Some of these ballots in some states can’t even be opened until Election Day, thousands of ballots, going to take time to do it, and by the way, our military, they have been voting by ballots since the end of the Civil War by effort, and that is what is going to happen,” Biden said Tuesday night. “Why is it for them somehow not fraudulent, it’s the same process, it’s honest, no one has established at all that there is fraud related to mail-in ballots, that somehow it’s a fraudulent process.”

Biden emphasized that he planned to accept the final count. 

“Here is the deal: the fact is I will accept it, and he will too, you know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that will be the end of it, and if it’s me in fact, fine, if it’s not me, I’ll support the outcome, and I’ll be a president for Democrats and Republicans,” Biden said. 

Trump was vocal about his concerns with the election count process running beyond Nov. 3, describing this scenario as a “rigged election.” Experts have increasingly warned that a longer process of tallying the vote is likely due to the expected influx of mail-in ballots. 

Biden accused Trump of trying to “scare people” into questioning the outcome of the election, and urged U.S. voters to cast ballots.

“Show up and vote, you will determine the outcome of this election, vote vote vote,” Biden said. “He cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election.”

Tags absentee ballots Chris Wallace Donald Trump Joe Biden mail-in voting Melania Trump Presidential Debate

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