Trump encourages Floridians to vote by mail, despite criticizing mail-in voting
TAMPA, Fla. - After months of saying statewide mail-in voting systems are ripe for fraud, President Donald Trump insists Florida's system is safe.
“Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” Trump wrote. “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! #MAGA”
"Over a long period of time, they have been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally," he said during a White House press conference. "Florida is different from other states."
Though there have been very few cases of mail voter fraud, he has tweeted claims about it dozens of times since early April, when he claimed there was, "tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, it doesn't work out well for Republicans."
In Florida, however, the request-a-ballot system has worked out well for the GOP. In 2016, 30% of all voters in the sunshine state -- 2.8 million -- voted by mail and 60,000 more Republicans did so than Democrats.
"Elections in Florida are always close," said FOX 13 political editor Craig Patrick. "Vote-by-mail has been a difference-maker for Republicans."
But with the president tweeting things like, "mail-in voting is already proving to be a catastrophic disaster," Democrats have taken the edge.
For the August 18 primary, 1.3 million Republicans have requested ballots, compared to 1.9 million Democrats.
"If that bears out, the same trend for November, frankly Republicans would be in trouble because elections in Florida are always close," said Patrick.
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The pandemic is increasing demand.
Hillsborough County's elections office says twice as many mail ballots have been requested for the primary. The governor has allowed supervisors of elections to start counting mail ballots earlier than normal.
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The supervisor says his office, and every other around the state, is ready to count them just right in November.
"We have the machinery," said Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer. "We have the process to be able to do this. All it takes is more man-hours."