Election Day is just 50 days away, but many Americans won't have to wait nearly that long to cast ballots. Voters in North Carolina are already sending in their absentee ballots, and by the end of this week, early voting will be underway in five states.
With this in mind, Donald Trump appeared in North Carolina two weeks ago, and appeared to tell his supporters to effectively vote twice -- once by mail, and then again in person. He doubled down soon after.
Over the weekend, the president thought it'd be a good idea to take this a little further, pushing this message via Twitter:
"NORTH CAROLINA: To make sure your Ballot COUNTS, sign & send it in EARLY. When Polls open, go to your Polling Place to see if it was COUNTED. IF NOT, VOTE! Your signed Ballot will not count because your vote has been posted. Don't let them illegally take your vote away from you!"
Again, none of this makes sense -- which is probably why Twitter flagged the presidential missive for violating the social-media company's Civic Integrity Policy by "encouraging people to potentially vote twice."
North Carolina voters who want to track their mail-in ballots can do so online. If they show up at local voting precincts, election officials may not know whether their ballots have been counted or not, which raises the very real possibility of people trying to vote twice, which is a felony. Indeed, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) published a tweet of his own in response to Trump's message, reminding voters in his state, "Do NOT do what the President directs."
But as the day progressed, so too did Trump's offensive against his own country's election system. At a Nevada rally on Saturday night, the president twice told supports the 2020 race is "rigged," before adding, "They don't even have to have an authorized signature in Nevada, did you know that?"
Rally attendees did not know that because it's not true. Trump made it up.
To be sure, it's not a secret that the incumbent president lies about matters large and small on a daily basis, but as Election Day draws closer, it matters that Trump is intensifying his voting-related lies in particular.
A Washington Post fact-check piece from late last week highlighted a series of demonstrably false, election-related claims from the president, and concluded, "This is a breathtaking onslaught on the truth and the integrity of an upcoming U.S. election. We expect it from Russia, especially after the copious evidence of its disinformation campaign in 2016 to benefit Trump. But to see it emanate from the president of the United States [and his close allies] is nothing short of stunning."
The larger question worth pondering why Trump is putting so much effort behind these particular lies. It's hard not to wonder, for example, whether the president is laying the groundwork for a future challenge to election results, which he'll expect his supporters to take seriously.