Twitter and Facebook on Monday flagged a tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump that baselessly suggested extending state deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots past Election Day will “induce violence in the streets.”
Twitter hid Trump’s tweet, posted a day before the U.S. election, behind a notice saying “some or all” of its content “is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
Facebook posted a message underneath Trump’s post assuring that both mail-in voting and voting in person “have a long history of trustworthiness in the U.S.” and that voter fraud is “extremely rare,” while linking to the company’s voter information centre.
In the message posted identically to both social media platforms, Trump railed against a recent Supreme Court decision that upheld Pennsylvania’s three-day extension, until Nov. 6, to receive mailed-in ballots.
Republicans had urged the high court to overturn the state Supreme Court’s ruling that said the ballots can be accepted, as long as there is no proof they were mailed after the polls closed on Tuesday.
“The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one,” Trump tweeted. “It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!”
Pennsylvania is one of a number of battleground states that are crucial for either Trump or his Democratic opponent Joe Biden to win in order to secure a victory on Election Day.
Two others, North Carolina and Wisconsin, saw their own mail-in ballot extensions end up in front of the Supreme Court late last month. While the court allowed North Carolina’s six-day extension, it refused to reinstate Wisconsin’s, which was also meant to be six days.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed and appointed to the Supreme Court last week, was not involved in any of these emergency decisions, which required a swift resolution.
A court spokesperson told the New York Times that Barrett “has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings.”
Republicans are fighting against special rules created by state legislatures and courts amid the coronavirus pandemic, specifically targeting mail-in ballots and drive-thru ballot drop-offs.
Trump has signalled he will immediately take the election results to the courts if a winner is not decisively chosen on the night of the election
“We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” the president said ahead of a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday, where he also criticized the Supreme Court for its decision in that state’s ballot extension.
“I think it’s terrible when we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election in a modern-day age of computer,” he also said.
While the night of a presidential election usually ends with a winner being projected by various media outlets, the true results are never known on the same night after polls close.
That is likely to be even more true this year. According to the U.S. Elections Project, a nonpartisan website run out of the University of Florida that tracks county-level data, close to 100 million Americans have already voted early.
Of those, nearly 63 million mail-in ballots have been received, which in many states can’t be counted until Election Day. Another 29.1 million mail-in ballots are still outstanding, according to the site.
At a campaign rally in Avoca, Penn., Trump repeated past criticisms of the state’s governor, Tom Wolf, and his pandemic-related health orders while adding that he and his supporters are “watching” him.
“We’re all watching you, governor,” Trump told the crowd, who chanted “Tom Wolf sucks!”
“We have a lot of eyes on the governor and his friends. A couple of other governors out there too.”
Wolf, a Democrat, responded on Twitter, saying “Pennsylvanians will not be intimidated.”
The state’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, also made clear that officials “know how to follow and run out elections.”
“People vote,” he tweeted. “We add up all the eligible votes. And we the people pick the president.”