September 25, 2020/Media, Press

Tillis Caves to Party Pressure Again, Tries to Undermine Election Results by Attacking Absentee Voting 48 Hours After Supporting it

Tillis on Tuesday: “The North Carolina absentee ballot no-excuse voting system is a great way to vote. I would encourage everybody to do it.”

Tillis yesterday: “I have grave concerns” that vote by mail will be used to “create civil unrest and questions about whether or not the election was fair.”

Senator Tillis yesterday caved to his party’s coordinated attempt to undermine the November election results, irresponsibly casting doubt on North Carolina’s vote by mail system and suggesting that the process will be used to “create civil unrest and questions about whether or not the election was fair.” The comments come just 48 hours after Senator Tillis in a televised debate encouraged “everybody” to do it and said he had faith in the system.

Senator Tillis’ “about-face” on his principles comes as North Carolina Republicans are seeking to “exploit” a manufactured controversy at the State Board of Elections after a unanimous vote from Republican and Democratic members in favor of a settlement to expand voting rights. The coordinated stunt from Tillis and state Republicans included a flurry of comments that “align seamlessly” with President Trump’s attempts to undermine public confidence in mail-in voting.

Meanwhile, the state’s largest paper described the proposed settlement as “a prudent decision” to head off confusion that includes a series of “commonsense changes” to address complications around delays in mail delivery, the pandemic, and the swell of voters using absentee for the first time. The editorial was even more blunt: “Republican leaders don’t fear voter fraud. They fear voters.

“More than just another instance of a spineless Senator caving to the most extreme parts of his party, these comments from Senator Tillis are part of a coordinated attempt to undermine faith in our elections and are shockingly irresponsible coming from a sitting U.S. Senator,” NCDP spokesperson Robert Howard said. “With just over a month left in the election, coming off a disastrous debate loss, and trailing in poll after poll, Senator Tillis is now shredding his credibility and integrity in a pathetic attempt to save his flailing reelection bid, even if it means undermining faith in our democratic elections on his way out.”


News & Observer: Tillis says he has ‘grave concerns’ about voting by mail in NC after board settlement
By Brian Murphy
September 24, 2020

Key Points:

  • U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said Thursday he has “grave concerns” about North Carolina’s absentee by-mail system, less than two days after he said he had so much faith in the system that he challenged his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, to vote by mail.
  • Tillis’ about-face comes after the North Carolina State Board of Elections unanimously agreed Tuesday to a tentative settlement outlining a series of changes to the absentee by-mail system. Wednesday, both of the board’s Republican members unexpectedly resigned, saying they were misled during the settlement discussion, a claim that a Board of Elections spokesperson disputed.
  • “I have said in the last two debates that I trusted the absentee ballot system in North Carolina, until yesterday,” Tillis said during the show. “And now, I have grave concerns about North Carolina Board of Elections, non-legislators, taking a position that’s only slightly better than the horrible decision that came out of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”
  • N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, disputed Republicans’ accusations earlier Thursday, though not Tillis’ comments specifically, saying they’re intended to create confusion and distrust in the elections, The N&O reported.
  • “This is political theater at its most destructive,” Stein told The News & Observer in a written statement. “The Republican Party needs to start respecting democracy, instead of undermining it.”
  • Registered Democrats have dominated both ballot requests (494,072) and ballots cast (54.5%). Republicans have lagged in both requests (179,279) and returned ballots (15.9%).
  • In Tuesday’s debate, which was televised across the state, Tillis called on Cunningham to vote absentee by-mail. Both candidates said they had faith in North Carolina’s system, but Cunningham — calling himself a “little bit of a traditionalist” — said he planned to vote early in person.
  • Tillis said Tuesday that he “had so much confidence in vote by mail system” and he had voted many times by mail.
  • “The North Carolina absentee ballot no-excuse voting system is a great way to vote,” Tillis said Tuesday. “I would encourage everybody to do it. I would actually even encourage Cal to be a role model, put fewer people at polling locations and maybe be a little less traditional because these are untraditional times.”

News & Observer: Editorial: NC GOP leaders aren’t worried about voter fraud. They’re worried about a true vote.
By the Editorial Board
September 23, 2020

Key Points:

  • The Republican leaders don’t fear voter fraud. They fear voters. A closer look at the settlement shows the State Board of Elections made a prudent decision to settle the legal challenge to help absentee voters and head off confusion as Election Day nears.

Read the full editorial online here.