Disputed Presidential Election Looms
Author: Greg Valliere
May 25, 2020
ANOTHER ELECTION CONTROVERSY: We’re still in May, but there’s a growing likelihood that the Nov. 3 presidential election results will be disputed. The coronavirus will prompt many states to adopt mail-in voting, which President Trump adamantly asserts is fraudulent.
TRUMP IS PREPARED TO CHALLENGE the election if it’s close — and it seems very likely that it will be close. In Pennsylvania, for example, officials say it could take several days to validate a razor-thin margin, and in other states Trump is likely to claim fraud. Yesterday he predicted a “rigged” election.
WE’RE FREQUENTLY ASKED whether the election could be postponed, especially if the pandemic is still present. The House controls election logistics, and is not inclined to postpone the election. A disputed result is more likely, perhaps even adjudicated by the conservative Supreme Court, which decided the 2000 election.
THE HEART OF THIS CONTROVERSY involves Trump’s increasingly strident — and baseless — claim that mail-in voting is fraudulent. There’s no evidence to support that assertion; the most recent mail-in election was a special House race in California earlier this month that went smoothly — and the Republican won.
NEVERTHELESS, TRUMP STATED LAST WEEK THAT “We don’t want anyone to do absentee ballots,” — even though Trump has voted by mail at least three times, including the Florida primary earlier this year.
TRUMP HAS THREATENED STATES with a cut-off of federal aid if they proceed with plans for mail-in voting, although it’s unclear whether he has the authority to do so. In any event, this has not dissuaded the states from mailing applications to voters. Trump has attacked Nevada’s aggressive move to proactively make mail-in voting available to all residents. Nevada’s Secretary of State, who is implementing the program, is a Republican.
DEMOCRATS ARGUE THAT TRUMP is determined to suppress turnout; they assert that the GOP wants to block anything that would make voting easier. Democrats also claim that in several states, mostly in the South, voter turnout has been suppressed.
ELECTION EXPERTS ARE PREDICTING that nearly 170 million voters may be eligible to vote by mail this fall, which should produce far more than the 33 million absentee ballots that actually were cast in 2016. Anything close to 100 million mail-in votes could delay reporting final results in cash-strapped states, which may not have resources to report quickly.
FINALLY, STILL ANOTHER CONTROVERSY: The U.S. Postal Service, which would obviously be integral in this process, is warning that it could run out of money this fall and shut down. This would require the passage of funding legislation that Trump has threatened to veto.
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