During a campaign stop last Wednesday, President Trump urged voters in North Carolina to vote by mail and in person in the 2020 general election.
“Well, they’ll go out and they’ll go vote, and they’re going to have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way, because if it tabulates, then they won’t be able to do that,” Trump said during the campaign stop. “So, let them send it in, and let them go vote, and if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they won’t be able to vote. So that’s the way it is. And that’s what they should do.”
President Trump is encouraging voters to test the electoral system amid concerns of electoral integrity. Voting twice, however, is not an effective way to test the system. In fact, it is a crime.
According to North Carolina law, voting by mail and in person, which is considered electoral fraud, is a Class 1 felony.
As states such as North Carolina begin to vote early and send mail-in ballots across the country, the Biden and Trump campaigns as well as outside interest groups are going to give conflicting information about the rules on voting for the election to key electoral battlegrounds. Florida is one of those battleground states.
While Florida does not begin early voting until Oct. 24, concerns over potentially misleading information on how to vote safely may impact voting behavior. Florida election officials quickly released statements disputing President Trump’s claims and reassured voters of the systems already in place to protect the vote.
“If people en masse demand to commit crimes at their polling place, if they did it by the thousands, certainly this would cause chaos,” said Steve Vancore, spokesman for the Broward County Supervisor of Election. “But the important thing is that they can’t get past the system.”
Florida Supervisors of Elections have protections in place to ensure that no one can vote more than once. After a ballot – either by mail or early voting – has been processed, the voter rolls show a person has voted and they would not be allowed to vote again.
If people take the president’s suggestion, they would be delaying the process for everyone else who has not voted yet. Poll workers would have to start the process of checking people – and turning them away – while those who have not voted are still waiting in line.
This creates another concern as the poll worker shortage across the nation, especially in Florida, means that the process of checking if people voted twice will be longer as many polling stations could be severely understaffed.
Having long lines at understaffed polling places on election day is a situation many public health and election officials want to avoid. This is why actively recruiting poll workers is a key issue that is increasingly important, even after the president’s comments.
Paul Lux, Supervisor of Elections for Okaloosa County, had to reach out to multiple county and municipal agencies at the last minute to fill over 60 vacant positions before the August primary.
In Lux’s experience, there is never such thing as “enough” poll workers, but that phrase may hold more power now with a shortage of workers and constant misinformation.
While the public’s concern over a safe election is not unfounded, individuals testing the systems in place to protect the vote creates new problems instead of solving them.