Donald Trump has claimed without evidence that “ballot harvesting” would cause the 2020 presidential elections to be “the greatest scam in the history of politics” as the president continued his false attacks against mail-in voting.
Speaking at the kickoff of the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, the president attacked efforts to expand mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, alleging it was a Democrat-led attempt to disrupt a “fair and free election”.
“This is going to be one of the greatest scams,” Mr Trump said. “They’re going to mail out 80 million ballots. It’s impossible, they have no idea. Who’s mailing them? Mostly Democrat states and Democrat governors.”
The president then launched into a host of conspiracies, suggesting – again, without any evidence – that states ran by Democrats won’t “mail [ballots] to Republican neighbourhoods”.
The vast majority of evidence supports the fact that mail-in voting is a safe and secure way for voters across the country to cast their ballots – but Mr Trump has harped on claims that expanded access to absentee voting could cost him and other Republicans the election come November.
“This is the greatest scam in the history of politics, I think,” he continued. “And I’m talking about beyond our nation.”
Mr Trump told delegates at the RNC that the only way Democrats can win is “if this is a rigged election.”
Until he won, the president also warned that the 2016 election was going to be rigged.
On Monday, he said Americans know how to keep themselves safe from the coronavirus and can go to the polls, eliminating the need to mail in their ballots. He said, without providing evidence, that that creates fraud.
Voter fraud has proved exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice in 2017 ranked the risk of ballot fraud at 0.00004 to 0.0009 percent, based on studies of past elections.
Mr Trump said other votes will be “harvested” by people going door-to-door to collect ballots that voters have not submitted. In addition, he says some states are not verifying signatures on ballots. He did not provide evidence for those claims.
He then claimed the upcoming presidential election was the most important in the history of the United States, adding: “Our country can go in a horrible direction or in an even greater direction.”
He then said the US economy was humming along at high levels before the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Trump condemned governors who were continuing to keep their states shut down to stem the spread of the virus.
The speech was largely seen as a jab at his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, who has said that further shutdowns are needed to battle the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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