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Why Election Day could be just the start of a long battle over the U.S. presidency


Why Election Day could be just the start of a long battle over the U.S. presidency

US President Donald Trump’s refusal this week to say if he would accept the results of November’s election, and his repeated assertions that the vote will be “rigged” because of mail-in ballots, have raised the specter of a disputed election that could take weeks, or even months, to resolve. Even absent allegations of fraud, the…

US President Donald Trump’s refusal this week to voice if he would accept the implications of November’s election, and his repeated assertions that the vote will be “rigged” as a consequence of mail-in ballots, rep raised the specter of a disputed election that may well well score weeks, or even months, to derive to the backside of.

Even absent allegations of fraud, the deluge of mail ballots attributable to the coronavirus pandemic may well score weeks to tally, making it much less seemingly a winner is declared on Election Day in the contest between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. The aged vp currently leads Trump in thought polls.

Listed below are a few of the messy instances at play – and the arrangement they’re going to unfold:


Mail ballots will seemingly location off foremost delays in tallying results. In many states, they’ll attain after Election Day, and officers must begin them by hand and take a look at signatures. Already this twelve months, some foremost elections held mostly by mail as a consequence of the pandemic rep remained unsettled for weeks after Election Day.

Democrats anguish such delays may well allow claims of fraud to carry out traction.

A particular person briefed by the Biden campaign stated the candidate’s workers used to be bracing for a “nightmare wretchedness” in which Trump declares victory primarily based mostly entirely on main the in-particular person vote depend in battleground states on Nov. 3. Nonetheless in the ensuing days, as mail-in ballots from densely populated urban areas are counted, his serve disappears in what consultants call the “blue shift” – and the president claims the contest is being stolen from him.


States rep varying legal tricks concerning mail-in and absentee ballots – signature matching, postmark necessities, application gash-off dates – and any may well instructed litigation by either Democrats or Republicans over which ballots needs to be eligible and which may rep to nonetheless no longer.

Presidential nominating contests held this twelve months additionally uncovered huge challenges in handing over mail ballots on time, as election officers and submit offices were overwhelmed by the surge.

Voters who impart their express’s principles nonetheless can not derive their ballots serve in time by no fault of their very have would be effectively disenfranchised. That may well spark lawful challenges in states where the bustle is location by slim margins.

Litigation filed in particular particular person states may well in the end attain the U.S. Supreme Court, because it did in 2000, when Republican George W. Bush prevailed over Democrat Al Gore by staunch 537 votes in Florida after the conservative-leaning high courtroom halted a expose.

Essentially the latest courtroom’s conservative majority has customarily been permissive of vote casting restrictions. Nonetheless that would not primarily imply the courtroom would lean toward Trump in a dispute over the election results, lawful scholars voice.


Even per chance extra worrisome than litigation is the chance of an Electoral School dispute, some consultants voice.

The U.S. president is not any longer in actual fact elected by a majority of the neatly-liked vote. Below the Structure, 538 electors – is believed as the Electoral School – identify the winner.

In impart, the candidate who wins each and each express’s neatly-liked vote customarily collects that express’s electors, which may well well be apportioned primarily based mostly entirely on population. The governor of every and each express certifies the electors’ vote, which takes space this twelve months on Dec. 14, and submits it to Congress for its approval.

In a brand sleek e book, “Will He Trip?” Amherst School law professor Lawrence Douglas outlined a wretchedness in which the implications in three swing states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – are so close and muddied that every person aspects claim victory.

The Republican-controlled legislatures in each and each express, egged on by Trump, submit their very have certificates awarding the electors’ votes to Trump, even as the states’ Democratic governors ship separate certificates giving Biden the votes.

States rep every so often submitted competing certificates in U.S. ancient previous, most particularly in 1876, when the election remained unsettled for months. The dispute used to be resolved handiest after officers from both parties brokered a deal giving Republican Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency in trade for withdrawing U.S. troops left over from the Civil Battle from Southern states, a transfer that helped herald the Jim Crow generation of racial segregation.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that states may well punish “faithless electors” who solid votes for any individual moderately a good deal of than the winner of their express. Nonetheless larger than a dozen states haven’t any principles in opposition to faithless electors.

Below the federal Electoral Count Act, Congress is accountable for resolving Electoral School disputes, no longer the Supreme Court. Nonetheless the law is ambiguous, Douglas stated, and if the Senate remains in the palms of Republicans and Democrats retain management of the Home of Representatives, a wreck up Congress may well simply no longer without problems agree on a resolution.

“Must you inquire whether our constitutional lawful machine is designed to tackle an electoral crisis, the reply is, it in actual fact is not in actual fact,” Douglas stated in an interview.


Some consultants stated they were most inquisitive in regards to the lasting harm to democratic norms if Trump refuses to concede defeat, even though Biden is declared the winner.

Aloof succession is a trademark of U.S. democracy. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore did no longer close the election. Gore’s decision to accept it did.

Biden has instructed the navy may well want to “escort” Trump out of the White Home if he loses nonetheless refuses to go. Whoever is sworn in as president on Jan. 20 will disclose both the navy apart from govt-department security agencies, adore the Secret Carrier.

A disputed election can also spark civil unrest in a country already on edge thanks to the coronavirus, the recession and months of demonstrations over racial injustice.

Brand Brewer, an elections attorney who helps impart Democratic lawful volunteers in Michigan, stated the most simple attain to steer away from a long lawful battle would be for Biden to derive by a huge margin.

“Democrats want to be obvious this election is not any longer close,” he stated.

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