Media

In The News: What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?

By Eric Lach // The New Yorker // 8.21.2020

It has been difficult, throughout Donald Trump’s Presidency, to immediately know which of his declarations represent constitutional danger and which are merely attention-seeking bluster. “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election,” Trump told Fox News’s Chris Wallace during a recent White House interview. When Wallace asked if the President was suggesting that he might not accept the results, Trump, with hands raised, replied, “I have to see. I’m not going to just say yes.” 

The President’s intermittent musings about postponing the November election have so reliably set off rounds of breathless news coverage that Marc Elias, one of the Democratic Party’s go-to election lawyers, was compelled to write a blog post in March titled “No, Trump Cannot Move the General Election.” Similarly, in response to the persistent speculation that an electorally defeated Trump would spend Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day holed up in the Lincoln Bedroom like Tony Montana at the end of “Scarface,” the Biden campaign in July issued a pithy statement saying, “the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

But Trump’s threats about rejecting the results come November are not idle. In 2016, Trump disputed the results of an election he won, ludicrously claiming that his popular-vote shortfall was the result of illegitimate ballots cast by millions of undocumented immigrants. Four years later, the President is at the head of a concerted effort to undermine public confidence in the upcoming election. Trump has denounced efforts to expand the mail-voting systems that will allow millions of people to cast their ballots safely in this pandemic year. He has ignored calls to provide election administrators with much-needed additional funding to safeguard voters, staff, volunteers, and the vote-counting process. And he has overseen the crippling of the U.S. Postal Service at a time when its work will be critical to the success of the election.

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