Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

US ELECTIONS

Uproar as Donald Trump urges supporters to vote twice

Joe Biden meets family of Jacob Blake as Facebook announces plans to tackle election manipulation

Mr Trump said Americans should first try to vote by mail, if that option is offered in their state, then also go to the polling station on election day to check that their ballot has been counted -- and, if not, vote again. AFP
Mr Trump said Americans should first try to vote by mail, if that option is offered in their state, then also go to the polling station on election day to check that their ballot has been counted -- and, if not, vote again. AFP

The state of North Carolina on Thursday warned residents that voting more than once in an election is illegal, after US President Donald Trump urged supporters to commit what amounts to electoral fraud.

"It is illegal to vote twice in an election," said Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of North Carolina's state elections board.

In some US states, including North Carolina, it is a felony to induce people to vote more than once.

Ms Bell reminded voters of the checks in place to enforce the law, with a possible sentence of three to 12 months in jail for the crime.

Mr Trump on Wednesday urged his supporters to test the US postal voting system and cast ballots by mail and in person.

“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote," he said in North Carolina.

"If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote."

North Carolina's Attorney General, Josh Stein, in a tweet condemned Mr Trump's remarks.

“Make sure you vote, but do not vote twice," Mr Stein said. "I will do everything in my power to make sure the will of the people is upheld in November.”

North Carolina prepared to send out absentee ballots to its voters on Friday and Mr Trump's comments sparked concern among Democrats.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused Mr Trump of “trying to de-legitimise” the election results.

“The way to overcome this is to vote," Mr Biden said. "Vote, vote, vote. And there’s not a shred of evidence, not a shred of evidence that mail-in voting is fraudulent."

US Attorney General William Barr shied away from criticising Mr Trump over his comments.

"I don't know what the law of a particular state says,” Mr Barr told CNN.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany tried to play down Mr Trump's comments, insisting that he was not encouraging supporters to “do anything unlawful”.

“What he said very clearly there is make sure your vote is tabulated and if it is not, then vote,” Ms McEnany told Fox News.

Trump campaign files lawsuit to restrict voting options

The Trump campaign has filed another lawsuit to restrict voting options in November.

The campaign is suing “Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in federal court over his decision to allow Montana counties to conduct all-mail elections", Bloomberg reported.

The lawsuit in Montana follows similar legal action by the campaign in parts of Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Nevada.

The legal battles could prolong the fight over the results on November 3.

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to counter election manipulation. AFP
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to counter election manipulation. AFP

Fearful of election manipulation, Facebook said on Thursday that it would block new political advertisements in the last week before the vote.

“It's important that campaigns can run 'get out the vote' campaigns and I generally believe the best antidote to bad speech is more speech," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said.

"But in the final days of an election there may not be enough time to contest new claims."

Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook would link up with election officials to remove false claims about voting in the last 72 hours of the campaign.

Facebook also announced on Thursday that it would remove the video of Mr Trump suggesting people vote twice, under its anti-election fraud policies.

Rival candidates put campaign focus on swing states

Joe Biden travelled to the Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. AFP
Joe Biden travelled to the Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. AFP

With the race entering the last two months, the two candidates are focusing on swing states.

Mr Biden travelled to Kenosha, Wisconsin on Thursday to address the issue of racial division while Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka was headed to Pennsylvania on Friday.

The Democratic nominee began his Wisconsin visit by meeting with the family of Jacob Blake, the black man whose shooting by a white police officer sparked days of sometimes violent protests.

Mr Biden spent more than an hour in private with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr, his siblings and one of his lawyers, B’Ivory LaMarr.

Blake’s mother Julia Jackson and another lawyer, Ben Crump, joined by phone.

Mr Biden followed the meeting with a community discussion at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha.

The first face-to-face meeting between the two candidates will be on September 29 in a TV debate moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

Polls released on Thursday continued to give Mr Biden a lead on the national level, with an average of seven points, but showed a narrowing race in battleground states with five-point average lead, CNN said.

Updated: September 4, 2020 12:57 AM

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