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Trump Encourages Use of Mail-In Ballots in Florida in Stark Reversal

President Trump applauds during a signing ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 4, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After warning for months that widespread voting by absentee ballot could serve as a breeding ground for election fraud, President Trump appeared to reverse course on Tuesday and encouraged voters in Florida to vote by mail, assuring that the election system is secure.

“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!” Trump wrote in a tweet.

Just a day earlier, Trump claimed he has the authority to issue an executive order addressing the widespread use of mail-in ballots, which he has said could put the integrity of the presidential election at risk if large numbers of voters opt to vote by mail over coronavirus concerns. He also pledged Monday to sue over Nevada’s attempt to send mail-in ballots to all active voters. California has similarly announced that every voter will be sent a mail-in ballot, and Maryland will mail absentee ballot applications to voters but not the ballots themselves.

“You’ll never know who won that state,” the president said of Nevada’s plan to expand voting by mail.

Democrats have pushed for voting by mail to protect voters from possible exposure to coronavirus at polling places. Republicans meanwhile have cautioned that large numbers of voters using absentee ballots could result in ballots being lost in the mail, sent to those who have died, or sent to voters who no longer live at a particular address. An additional concern is the amount of time it would take to count all the mail-in ballots.

“You know, you could have a case where this election won’t be decided on the evening of Nov. 3. This election could be decided two months later,” Trump said Monday in an interview with “Axios on HBO.”

More than a dozen states either delayed their primary elections or expanded voting by mail as the outbreak in the U.S. grew. For the presidential election, at least 42 states as well as the District of Columbia will allow voters to vote using absentee ballots without providing a justification.

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