At a White House rally on Saturday, President Donald Trump doubled-down on his claims of “crooked” and “fraudulent” ballots found and submitted for the upcoming presidential election, repeating that there are “tremendous problems” with mail-in voting.
“Did you see how many crooked ballots are being found and turned back in and fraudulent? Just what I said,” the president said during his 20-minute speech. “Then they’ll say, ‘He doesn’t believe in freedom.’ I totally believe in freedom…what we’re doing is freedom.”
He cited the nearly 50,000 voters who received incorrect absentee ballots this week in Franklin County—home to Ohio’s capital and largest city—accounting for almost 21% of the ballots sent out in the county. Franklin County residents reported misprinted information on the ballot, including for a congressional race.
The county’s Board of Elections released a statement on Friday stating that all replacement ballots will be sent out and received within 72 hours and that every voter will be allotted only one ballot while sorting systems will not accept replacement ballots submitted by any individual who voted in-person.
“We want to make it clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot,” the statement reads. “Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote.”
The Franklin County error was one of several isolated incidents tweeted out by Trump this week to back his claims that mail-in voting is filled with fraud. He also pointed to a New Jersey postal employee accused of dumping 99 ballots—which were placed back in the mail stream for delivery—and a Texas mayoral candidate arrested by the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, for forging at least 84 voter registration applications.
Trump proceeded to falsely state that “every day” there’s a story about fraudulent ballots.
Although cases of voting fraud remain extremely rare, the president has utilized his social media and campaigning platform to hone in on isolated errors in the voting system and amplify false and unfounded claims that mail-in voting will lead to widespread fraud.
“Some thrown out, they happen to have the name Trump,” he said during the rally, referring to a small number of military ballots that were allegedly “discarded” in Pennsylvania last month.
In a statement on September 24, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, David Freed, announced that his office and the FBI were investigating this incident, which occurred in Luzerne County. Freed said that the nine recovered military ballots were found in an outside dumpster, “improperly opened” by the election staff and “discarded.” Seven of these ballots cast a vote for Trump, and it is unknown which candidate the remaining two ballots selected as they had been “previously recovered by elections staff, reinserted into what appeared to be their appropriate envelopes, and then resealed.”
After discussing the incidents at the rally, Trump went on to mention that he’s confident the “fraud” won’t affect his win, while reinforcing his past claims that he plans to send law enforcement officers to polling locations in order to prevent voter fraud, which has raised concerns of voter intimidation.
“I think we’re going to swamp them by so much, hopefully it’s not going to matter,” he said.
He added: “We have law enforcement watching all those ballots, they’re being found for a reason.”
The rally was Trump’s first since announcing he had tested positive for the coronavirus just nine days ago. The attendees, many of them Black and Latino Americans, gathered on the South Lawn at the White House to hear Trump speak from the balcony.
Many of these attendees, wearing matching blue t-shirts and red hats, were members of “Blexit” a campaign cofounded by conservative activist Candace Owens to encourage Black Americans to drop the Democratic Party. Owens reportedly paid for several members’ travel and lodging expenses, according to ABC News.
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