WASHINGTON (News Nation) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday encouraged Florida voters to vote by mail, following weeks of criticism against the process.
Trump has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that mail-in voting carries more risks than voting by absentee ballot and could result in widespread fraud.
Voting by mail has been embraced as a way to limit exposure to and mitigate spread of the novel coronavirus. Most absentee ballots are conducted by mail.
Tuesday, Trump suggested there was no difference between the two, and urged Florida voters to trust their voting system.
“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! #MAGA,” Trump wrote.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, asked about the tweet during a White House briefing, referred questions to the Trump campaign, which was not immediately available to comment.
McEnany said the president remained concerned about “mass mail-out voting,” such as that planned in Nevada and California’s Los Angeles County, but not absentee ballots that require a proactive request by voters.
Trump on Monday vowed to sue Nevada, which plans to send mail-in ballots to every voter ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
With Florida’s large retirement population, voting by mail is expected to become a more popular option this November. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was asked Saturday if he had concerns about the option. “No, I’m not concerned about mail-in voting in Florida,” he said.
Florida GOP officials welcomed Trump’s tweet.
“Thank you for the clarification Mr President! This is very helpful,” said Joe Gruters, the chair of Florida’s Republican Party. “Florida will deliver you the 29 electoral votes!”
Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington already conduct their elections entirely by mail, while California and Vermont have decided to do so this year due to the pandemic.
States that use mail-in votes exclusively say they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure that a hostile foreign actor doesn’t disrupt the vote. Election security experts say voter fraud is rare in all forms of balloting, including by mail.
The issue has spawned partisan litigation in dozens of states over issues like absentee ballots and signature requirements.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Leslie Adler)