WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald Trump attempted to clarify Thursday comments he made a day earlier urging his supporters to vote twice to ensure their votes are counted, comments that have sown confusion over his intended message and caused Facebook to label his claims as misleading.
In tweets on Thursday, the president asserted that sending in absentee ballots and then going to the polls to check that your ballot arrived and if not to vote in person would serve as a check against a mail-in voting system he has repeatedly predicted, without evidence, will result in corruption, miscounting and unacceptable delays.
"On Election Day, or Early Voting, go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen's right to do)," said Trump on his personal Twitter account.
We placed a public interest notice on two Tweets in this thread for violating our Civic Integrity Policy, specifically for encouraging people to potentially vote twice. https://t.co/UU9kJfqptz— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 3, 2020
In comments in North Carolina on Wednesday, on an airport tarmac in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he was greeted by an invited crowd of supporters, Trump suggested that those who vote by mail should "then go and vote" in person, as well.
Facebook has announced it plans to act on videos posted of Trump's original comments.
"This video violates our policies prohibiting voter fraud and we will remove it unless it is shared to correct the record," the company said in a statement.
"The president does not condone unlawful voting," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany replied repeatedly when pressed at a briefing Thursday on whether she would acknowledge it is illegal in the United States to vote twice in the same election.
The press secretary accused the media of taking out of context Trump's comments.
"The president wants enfranchisement, not disenfranchisement," McEnany added.
"It is illegal in all 50 states and under federal law to vote twice," said Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner and former chair of the Federal Election Commission.
Weintraub, a Democratic Party appointee, also said on Twitter "there's still no basis for the conspiracy theory" that postal balloting will lead to a rigged election, as Trump has repeatedly asserted.
There are 61 days until Election Day.— Ellen L 😷 Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) September 3, 2020
It is illegal in all 50 states and under federal law to vote twice. As any federal officeholder or law-enforcement official should know.
And there’s still no basis for the conspiracy theory that #VoteByMail will lead to a rigged election. https://t.co/u1E0zmfvRa
North Carolina's election board also responded swiftly in a statement posted to Twitter.
"It is illegal to vote twice in an election," said the board's executive director, Karen Brinson Bell. "There are numerous checks in place in North Carolina that prevent people from double voting."
Bell's statement explains that election pollbooks at every early voting site contain information about who has already voted. On Election Day, voters who have cast absentee ballots are removed from the pollbooks, which are updated before actual in-person voting begins.
"Because absentee ballots and early ballots are retrievable, if someone tries to get around the system, their ballots can be retrieved and not counted, so it will not affect the outcome of an election," Bell added.
Michigan officials, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, both Democrats, issued a reminder to voters in that state Thursday that "intentionally voting twice is illegal and will be prosecuted."
The Democratic Party nominee, Joe Biden, challenging Trump in November's election accuses the incumbent of "trying to delegitimize" the process.
"The way to overcome this is to vote. Vote, vote, vote," the former vice president told Atlanta's WSB-TV in a Wednesday interview. "And there's not a shred of evidence, not a shred of evidence that mail-in voting is fraudulent."
National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.