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In Weekend Events, Trump Keeps Up His Attacks On Biden, Mail-In Ballots

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We are close to the end - of the voting part, anyway. Tomorrow is the final day for Americans to cast their ballots or mail them back, but that does not mean we'll know who won by tomorrow night. That's not a sign that anything is wrong; it's just because with more people voting by mail because of the pandemic, it's going to take longer to count those ballots in some key states.

President Trump, though, is amplifying his false claims that the winner needs to be declared on election night. Here he is talking to reporters on a campaign swing through North Carolina last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think it's a terrible thing when people are - when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over because it can only lead to one thing, and that's very bad. You know what that thing is - I think it's a very dangerous, terrible thing. And 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.

MARTIN: Now, just to be clear - that is not actually unusual at all. We're going to take a look this morning at how President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are closing out their campaigns. And we're going to begin with NPR's Tamara Keith, who's been covering the Trump campaign. Good morning, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So we've heard President Trump questioning mail-in voting for a long time now. But what stands out to you about what we're hearing from him and his campaign on this on the eve of Election Day?

KEITH: Yeah, so President Trump has been trashing voting by mail for months. And guess what? His supporters listened. And a lot of them are now expected to wait and vote in person on Election Day. It's a big part of the campaign strategy to turn them out. As it happens, Election Day votes, in some states at least, are counted earlier than vote-by-mail ballots.

Yesterday, Jason Miller, a campaign adviser, was on TV, and he said that the campaign thinks that they'll be ahead in a lot of states on election night, and then he falsely claimed that Democrats are going to try and steal it back. But this is - if he's ahead, it's just because all the votes aren't counted, potentially. Those absentee ballots take longer to sort through in some states, in states that don't count them early.

MARTIN: Right. There's no stealing...

KEITH: There's no stealing.

MARTIN: ...It back if it was never finalized. Right.

KEITH: No, it's not finalized until all of the votes that get in on time are counted. And, you know, when I was out with President Trump on Saturday - he was campaigning in Pennsylvania - and he said it would be, quote, "bedlam in our country" if there was a long wait for results.

MARTIN: But, I mean, is the president himself feeding into the potential for bedlam by undermining the process?

KEITH: I mean, he's telling his supporters to go into cities and watch the polls, causing Democrats to fear voter intimidation. We've also seen progressive groups organizing protests for tomorrow night, including near the White House, out of fear that the president will try to claim victory without having won. And ahead of Election Day, there have also been these Trump caravans in various parts of the country, parades of vehicles with Trump flags.

MARTIN: Yeah, I saw one yesterday, actually - right outside of D.C.

KEITH: Yeah, and surrounding a Biden-Harris campaign bus that then they had to cancel events. And the president was praising them, even as the FBI says it's investigating the incident.

MARTIN: So lastly, Tam, how does the Trump reelection campaign - I mean, how are they trying to leverage all of that in this final day?

KEITH: Well, you know, all of this question of whether he will declare victory depends on whether it is decisive. And we won't know that until tomorrow night at the earliest.

MARTIN: At the earliest. And then the counting and the counting. NPR's Tamara Keith. Thank you.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.