President Donald Trump — confronting a COVID-19 death toll of more than 225,000 people, lagging behind Joe Biden in the polls, and struggling to find a coherent closing message ahead of Election Day in a week — spent Tuesday morning continuing his pattern of trying to confuse voters and undermine the election system.
Trump claimed without evidence that a large number of early voters have changed their minds and now want to modify their vote — in favor of Trump, Trump claimed — and encouraged them to do so. It was part of an early morning all-caps tirade on Twitter, one of his favorite platforms to spread misinformation.
Trump began, “Strongly Trending (Google)...” (this is not true).
He continued, “...since immediately after the second debate...” (this is also not true).
He went on, “...is CAN I CHANGE MY VOTE? This refers changing it to me.”
“The answer in most states is YES.” (This is also not true. Changing your vote is only possible in a handful of states.)
“Go do it. Most important Election of your life!” he concluded. (That last sentence is probably true.)
Trump’s tweet came about 20 minutes after Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy mentioned on air a New York Post article about a spike in Google searches for “Can I change my vote” — the Post linked the searches to its unverified report on Hunter Biden.
That phrase was not among Google’s top trending searches in the US over the past seven days. There were small spikes in searches for “Can I change my vote” beginning Oct. 24 — but not, as Trump asserted, immediately after the Thursday debate, which had a drop in viewer ratings compared to the first debate.
Google searches for the exact phrase Trump tweeted do not show which candidate people are considering changing their votes for. But searches for “Can I change my vote to Trump” and “Can I change my vote to Biden” have both similarly seen small increases in the past few days, though there is no huge difference in volume between the two.
And, contrary to his claim that voters in most states can change their vote after casting their absentee ballot, only a handful of states have laws that allow voters to do so, each with different restrictions. Attempting to do so anywhere else can be considered voting twice, which is illegal.
Twitter, which has previously labeled a number of Trump’s tweets about voting as “misleading,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment. His tweet about changing votes was not labeled as of early Tuesday afternoon. A Google spokesperson declined to comment on Trump's tweet.
Trump has for months spread incorrect information as a way to undermine the public’s confidence in election results. He did the same thing in the 2016 election — which he won — falsely saying illegal votes made him lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
With only seven days until Election Day, the president has resorted to tweeting unsubstantiated claims about “big problems” with mail-in ballots and a barrage of false information about voting numbers, even though he has had a consistently poor showing in national polls. As he struggles to land on a strong message for the final stretch of the election, Trump has claimed that COVID-19, which has killed 225,000 people amid his administration’s failed response to contain the virus, is a “Fake News Media Conspiracy,” and has said that reporting on the pandemic “should be an election law violation.”
“ALL THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IS COVID, COVID, COVID,” he tweeted again Tuesday morning. “ON NOVEMBER 4th, YOU WON’T BE HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT IT ANYMORE. WE ARE ROUNDING THE TURN!!!”
Trump has also for months pushed false and misleading information about voting — particularly about voting by mail, a process he has personally relied on for years. He has urged his supporters to “watch” the polls in battleground states like Pennsylvania, where he claimed poll watchers were “thrown out” of polling locations in Philadelphia.
In September, his campaign sent poll watchers to observe voters in Philadelphia’s satellite polling locations — where people register to vote, apply for mail-in ballots, and complete and deposit their ballots — even though they were not authorized to do so. Poll watchers are only allowed to be present at polling places on Election Day, and in October a judge affirmed that state law does not allow the Trump campaign to send partisan poll watchers to satellite voting locations.
But Trump has continued to insist that his supporters take on the role of polling observers, including during early voting, which voter advocacy groups and state attorneys general have warned could lead to intimidation and violence.
“Philadelpiha,” he tweeted Tuesday, misspelling the city's name, “MUST HAVE POLLWATCHERS!”