With experts predicting that coronavirus cases could spike again in the winter months, many states are considering allowing all voters to apply for a mail-in ballot for the presidential election to prevent lines at polling stations. Michigan, California, and Nevada are among several states pushing to make mail-in ballots more accessible after the CDC recommended the practice as a safe option during the pandemic.
President Donald Trump, however, has strongly opposed the expansion, stating that mail-in ballots are prone to fraud.
"Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election," the president wrote in one tweet. "This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!"
“Voting is an honour," Trump told reporters earlier this month. "It shouldn’t be something where they send you a pile of stuff and you send it back. If people mail in ballots, there’s a lot of illegality.”
And on Tuesday, President Trump renewed his attacks on mail-in ballots, writing:
"There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!"
But this time, Twitter marked the president's tweets with an alert that reads "get the facts about mail-in ballots." The alert links to a page that calls Trump's claims of voter fraud "unsubstantiated."
"On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic," Twitter wrote. "These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud."
The page points out: "Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to "a Rigged Election." However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud."
"Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to 'anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.' In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots."
"Five states already vote entirely by mail and all states offer some form of mail-in absentee voting, according to NBC News."
The page links to several sources that disprove Trump's claims, including ABC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
President Trump didn't seem too happy with the correction, later taking to Twitter to rail against the social media platform.
"[Twitter] is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election," he wrote. "They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post. Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"
President Trump then laid into social media as a whole, writing: "Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!"
Unsurprisingly, the dispute has led some to some mixed reactions,
An NBC journalist wrote: "Trump complaining that twitter is imposing on his 'free speech'? What about his frequent attacks on journalists as 'the enemy of the people,' which bonafide free speech experts and activists have told me time and time again encourage violence against reporters."
While another suggested that the correction amounted to "censorship."
This latest drama comes as Twitter is being asked to delete false claims made by the president that Joe Scarborough played a role in an aide's death.