In an interview in July 2020, Donald Trump, President of the United States, told an American TV host, Chris Wallace that he is “not a good loser,” when asked about the possibility of the November Presidential election results not being in his favour. “I am not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no.”
Since he began his run for President in the 2016 elections, Trump has been extremely vocal about claiming rigged elections even after he won, and that Democrats have set out to make him lose through a variety of alleged means. Similarly in this election, he has continuously claimed that expansion of absentee and mail-in ballots will ‘corrupt’ the election. Even before the pandemic, as early as May 2019, there were concerns that Trump won’t allow for an easy transition of power, to the extent that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to comment on them.
It’s possible Trump has been escalating this rhetoric because his COVID-19 mismanagement among other things, has put him behind his rival Joe Biden in national polls. It is bad enough that a President is questioning the integrity of elections with little to no proof to back up his exaggerations, but this will almost definitely lead to the people of the country— whether his supporters or not— distrusting the elections as well.
Despite the absentee and mail-in ballots being provided due to the coronavirus pandemic, to enable social distancing and to allow people to vote safely from home. Trump has often played down the coronavirus pandemic, and called Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health expert on infectious diseases, an “alarmist” for raising issues pertaining to COVID-19.
The chances of an “electoral meltdown” are slim, but not impossible; the right (or wrong) mix of factors can lead to disaster. Lawrence Douglas, professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, at Amherst College, Massachusetts. imagined a scenario where the difference between Trump and Biden rests on swing states and mail ballot results. Given the chance of a higher than usual number of mail-in ballots this year due to the pandemic, delays in counting votes are to be expected. Trump wouldn’t be slow to claim rigged elections and refuse to wait for all votes to be counted and right-wing media wouldn’t be slow to broadcast this everywhere.
In a closely fought election like this US Presidential election , the ‘Swing states’ (where both parties enjoy similar levels of popularity) will play a major role in the outcome. Three of the major swing states in America: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have Republican lawmakers but Democratic governors. Each state is required to submit electoral certificates declaring the election winner in their state. By the time all votes are counted, Republican legislatures and Democratic governors might end up submitting conflicting election results for the same state.
A similar stalemate had occurred in 1876. It led to a “disastrous” compromise and the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which, according to Professor Douglas, may prove deficient in preparing for an impasse like the one that currently looms in the realm of possibility.
If Trump were to challenge the result he might have a few options for his course of action. He could challenge the results in court, as happened in 2000 in the state of Florida. Or, Republicans in state legislatures might use the Constitution to override the decision of the popular vote.
According to speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and some Trump campaign spokespeople believe that Trump will accept the results of the election but do not rule out the possibility of him putting up a fight.
For others, given what is known about Trump’s behaviour, it’s more or less anticipated that he, and his twitter, will be raging with a lot of accusations if he loses the election, especially if it happens by a close margin. The important questions related to what he chooses to do about it and who backs him up.