Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr step off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 1, 2020. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

'Do Not Vote Twice': State AGs Forced to Clean Up Law-Breaking Encouraged by Trump and Excused by Barr

"Nope. Don't do it. It's illegal, and you'll get prosecuted."

Jake Johnson

Democratic attorneys general across the U.S. overnight and into Thursday were forced to implore residents of their states to not attempt to vote twice in the November election—and inform them that anyone who tries will face prosecution—after President Donald Trump openly encouraged North Carolinians to cast a ballot both by mail and in person, a violation of state and federal law.

"The Department of Justice needs to make absolutely clear to the public that what the president is encouraging his supporters to do is to commit a felony punishable by jail time."
—Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause

Shortly after U.S. Attorney General William Barr repeatedly claimed he didn't know whether it is unlawful to vote twice in North Carolina, the state's Democratic AG Josh Stein made clear on Twitter that casting two ballots in the same contest is illegal and condemned Trump for openly encouraging people to "break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election."

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

Other state AGs followed Stein in rebuking Trump and emphasized that anyone who follows the president's advice will be prosecuted, regardless of who they vote for.

"Please, folks, don't follow Trump's advice," said Maryland AG Brian Frosh. "It's a crime, and we will prosecute anyone who tries it."

The AGs of Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nevada echoed that message:

Speaking to a local reporter in North Carolina on Wednesday, Trump urged state residents to both "send your ballots" by mail and vote in person on Election Day to test whether the ballot-counting system is working properly. If the mail-in ballot wasn't counted, Trump said, "they will be able to vote" in person on Election Day.

"That's the way it is," the president added, "and that's what they should do."

Asked about Trump's advice to voters during a CNN appearance Wednesday night, Barr tried to explain away the president's comments as a mere attempt to "make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good."

"If it was so good," Barr continued, "if you tried to vote a second time you would be caught."

After CNN host Wolf Blitzer explained to the nation's top law enforcement official that it would in fact "be illegal if they did that," Barr responded, "I don't know what the law in the particular state says."

Under North Carolina law, it is illegal for "any person with intent to commit a fraud to register or vote at more than one precinct or more than one time, or to induce another to do so, in the same primary or election, or to vote illegally at any primary or election."

Karen Hobert Flynn, president of watchdog group Common Cause, said in a statement Thursday that both the act of voting twice and Trump's effort to urge people to do so are crimes that the Justice Department must condemn.

"The Department of Justice needs to make absolutely clear to the public that what the president is encouraging his supporters to do is to commit a felony punishable by jail time," said Flynn. "This cannot be the cable news fumbling of Attorney General William Barr trying to not to offend the president by excusing his urging of Americans to commit crimes."

"What President Trump is suggesting his supporters do is not only nonsense, but it is also a felony meant to undermine the integrity of our elections," Flynn added. "You cannot test election integrity rules by breaking them any more than you can rob a bank to make sure your money is safe."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·


Health Minister Says 'Highly Transmissible' Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa

In South Africa's worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals.

Julia Conley ·


Groups Tell UN Food Agency to Ditch 'Toxic Alliance' With Pesticide Association

"This partnership with CropLife is in direct conflict with FAO's mandate as a U.N. institution to fulfill human rights to health, adequate food, clean water and environment, and safe working conditions."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo