Editorial: 'Law & order' president protects lawbreaking and rule dodging

Posted September 4, 2020 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated September 4, 2020 7:35 a.m. EDT

CBC Editorial: Friday, Sept. 4, 2020; Editorial #8583
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

For an incumbent desperate to portray himself as a law-and-order guy, President Donald Trump is an unrelenting advocate for lawbreaking and rule dodging. While he obsessively complains, wrongly, about potential voter fraud with mail-in ballots, he just told people in North Carolina to vote twice – a felony – to check if their votes get counted. It was bad, wrong and lawbreaking advice.

Vigilantes contemplating gunning down protesters have no better friend than Trump. Just ask Kyle Rittenhouse – the semi-automatic gun-toting teen charged with murdering two protesters in Kenosha. Wisconsin. Trump offered a lame defense for Rittenhouse’s alleged actions while blanketly condemning of all protesters and the leaders of the cities they live in.

Trump’s latest high-profile invitation to lawlessness this week sadly overshadowed the celebration of the designation of Wilmington as the nation’s first “World War II Heritage City.”

He advised North Carolinians who vote by mail to also vote in person. For a guy who has been obsessively complaining, wrongly, that mail-in ballots were connected with rampant voter fraud, he popped off telling people to vote twice – the textbook definition of voter fraud.

“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,” the president said. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote. That’s the way it is. And that’s what they should do.”  Watch the video.

Trump, typically ignorant of the facts, should know voters in North Carolina can easily check on the status of their ballot -- without breaking or bending any laws – on their smart phone, smart pad or PC. Election officials have set up online tools. There’s the “VOTER SEARCH TOOL” to find out if ballots have been accepted by local boards of elections. Voters can contact, by email or telephone, their county board of elections to inquire. In a few days, the state Board of Elections will be launching “BallotTrax,” a new service where voters can track their ballot through the mail and confirm receipt just as they might track an item ordered online.

Trump’s incendiary statement prompted North Carolina’s top elections official to issue a statement reminding voters not to break the law. “It is illegal to vote twice in an election. N.C.G.S. § 163-275(7) makes it a Class I felony,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

“The State Board office strongly discourages people from showing up at the polls on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot was counted. That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19.”

North Carolina state and local elections officials, and their colleagues in communities around the nation, have been working tirelessly to help make sure every qualified voter casts a ballot and every vote is fairly counted. There are services, policies and practices – not to mention laws – that help assure voters their ballots are delivered, facilitate getting votes turned in and having them counted in a timely manner.

When the president appears in Winston-Salem next week he should apologize and confess his concern about ballots getting counted was unfounded and his suggestion that voters cast two ballots was an invitation to break the law.

Further he should praise the state’s elections officials on behalf of the thousands of election workers across the nation. He should congratulate North Carolina’s state and local boards of elections as models for election preparation that keep voters informed and are dedicated to assuring a full and fair count of every ballot cast.

Even as evidence piles up of foreign efforts to disrupt the 2020 elections, these outside agitators and lawbreakers are going to have tough competition from the president of the United States. That is a tragic state of affairs.

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