BY: LAUREN LANTRY, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — On Saturday, Twitter once again labeled one of President Donald Trump’s tweets with a public interest notice — this time because it violated the social media platform’s “Civic Integrity Policy” for encouraging “people to potentially vote twice,” according to the social media platform.
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity,” the notice said. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Trump’s tweet encouraged North Carolinians to vote twice, saying voters could send in a mail-in ballot early, go to a polling location to see if it was counted and, if not, vote again. Voting twice, even under those circumstances, is illegal.
Under the United States Constitution, each individual state is charged with overseeing elections. North Carolina, along with 30 other states and the District of Columbia, “prohibit voting twice in the same election,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL says “7 states prohibit voting twice within the state or for the same office” and “11 states explicitly prohibit voting in more than one state.”
Indiana is the only state that does not explicitly mention voting twice, but “registering to vote more than once is a misdemeanor.”
For months, Trump has sought to undermine confidence in mail-in voting as the country grapples with how to safely cast ballots during a pandemic. His tweet on Saturday was not the first time the president has suggested voting twice — and on Sept. 3 he specifically targeted North Carolinians with that advice.
Last week, state election officials issued a public statement discouraging voters from showing up to polls on Election Day if they had already voted by mail after the president suggested supporters do just that in an interview with WECT.
This is also not the first time Twitter has labeled the president’s tweets for propagating false or dangerous information. Trump’s tweets have previously been labeled as “manipulated media” for a tweet that spread misinformation and as “abusive behavior” for a tweet that encouraged violence. Twitter also issued a notice last month when the president tweeted that ballot drop boxes could be used for fraud and were not being sanitized properly. It said the tweet violated the platform’s “Civic Integrity Policy for making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.”
While users of Twitter are still able to view Trump’s Saturday tweet, it cannot be retweeted or liked.
On Twitter’s safety page, the social media outlet explained its actions, saying “we err on the side of limiting the circulation of Tweets which advise people to take actions which could be illegal in the context of voting or result in the invalidation of their votes.”
The president has often criticized voting by mail, frequently repeating unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud in the 2020 election – a claim intelligence officials have pushed back against. Both he and First Lady Melania Trump have requested mail-in ballots of their own for the upcoming election.
Following Trump’s tweet on Saturday morning, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein responded on Twitter saying, “Do NOT do what the President directs… Do NOT vote twice (it’s a felony), or waste your time, or unnecessarily risk exposure to more people.”
Stein then went on to explain in a thread on Twitter that if voters want to vote by mail, they should vote as early as possible. If voters prefer to vote in person, Stein notes that early voting is also available for voters in all North Carolina counties.
The Trump campaign responded to Twitter’s warning Saturday by saying “Ensuring your vote is counted is not a nefarious act but a basic American right, and it’s very telling that Twitter would label the President’s words as otherwise,” while reiterating the same advice Twitter had flagged. Not mentioned was that in North Carolina voters are able to track their ballot online to ensure it is counted.
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