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President Donald Trump railed against the Supreme Court on Monday for its decision to allow an extended count of Pennsylvania mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, tweeting that doing so would lead to violent unrest in the country.
“The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one,” Trump tweeted on Monday evening, only hours before Election Day. “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!”
The justices last month rejected a Republican request for a stay on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that would allow ballots to be counted up to three days after Election Day. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 4-4 not to issue the stay, allowing the state to go through with counting those votes.
The Supreme Court generally requires a majority to grant a stay, and the justices who voted against the Republicans did not justify their decision.
Trump reiterated his criticisms on Monday night at a campaign rally in Kenosha, Wis., by saying the Supreme Court made a “very dangerous decision“ last month. He added that he “probably shouldn‘t be speaking this way" against the high court, but said the move was a deep disappointment.
“I guess it was a political decision,“ Trump said.
Trump has repeatedly insisted that the election results should be determined by the evening of Nov. 3, and has cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in voting as Americans have opted en masse to vote absentee amid the coronavirus pandemic. Twitter flagged Trump’s Monday-evening tweet as misleading and linked to an explainer on the security of mail-in voting.
Kathy Boockvar, secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, insisted on Monday evening that Pennsylvania’s voting infrastructure was secure against fraud, and she denounced Trump’s tweet.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about, but to say anything about inciting violence is completely inappropriate,” Boockvar said on CNN. “We want to make sure every qualified voter has the right and opportunity to vote, and I honestly can’t imagine what he’s talking about.”
Monday’s tweet also took things to a new level by insinuating that the Supreme Court would be responsible for violent uprisings in the wake of the election. Millions of protesters took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations after Trump’s 2016 victory, but tensions have escalated following a summer of protests against racism and excessive force by the police.
Cities across the country, including Washington and Philadelphia, are already planning for disturbances after the election, with storefronts boarded up. Multiple rings of barriers have also been erected around the White House grounds.