U.S. set to plunge into the unknown as election integrity questioned

September 18, 2020 - 23:19

TEHRAN – With the U.S. presidential election less than two months away, analysts ring alarm bells about possible political conflict over election results. A U.S. expert tells the Tehran Times that the U.S. faces an ambiguous future due to differences over electoral integrity.

As the political battle between Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden heats up, so does the debate over the integrity of the elections, which is set to be held on November 3. While Trump and his supporters have managed to warn about possible voter fraud, Joe Biden and the Democrats raised the possibility that Trump would refuse to leave the White House if he loses the election.

“It's my greatest concern. My single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election. This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail, while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in the primary,” Biden said in an interview on Comedy Central's “The Daily Show.”

Biden also said that many states have taken measures to make it harder for people to vote. Therefore, his campaign would put together a team of lawyers across the country to oversee the election.

The Democrat candidate announced that he considered the possibility that Trump might refuse to leave the White House after he loses the election. He asserted that the military would help oust Trump if he loses the election but refuses to leave the Oval Office. Biden alluded to the criticism from military officials against Trump, saying they oppose militarizing the response to nationwide protests.

“I was so damn proud to hear that four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump, and you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, ‘Whoa we’re not a military state, this is not who we are’,” Biden said.

He went further to say, “I promise you. I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

On the other hand, Trump sought to brush aside fears he might not leave office willingly if November’s election doesn’t go his way.

“Certainly, if I don't win, I don't win,” he told Fox News’ Harris Faulkner in an interview in June. If he doesn’t win the election, Trump continued, “you go on, do other things.”

Despite Trump’s clarification, speculations that he might not leave the White House continued unabated. Recently, Attorney General William Barr rejected rumors about Trump refusing to leave office after the general election in November.

“You know liberals project,” Barr told the Chicago Tribune's John Kass. “You know the president is going to stay in office and seize power and all that s---? I’ve never heard of that crap. I mean, I’m the attorney general. I would think I would have heard about it.”

It’s not clear what might happen if Trump loses the election but refuses to leave the White House. Some analysts believe that the U.S. military might intervene to settle the standoff.

“There are no precedents in American history that a sitting president refuses to leave office after he loses the election. So, it’s not easy to say what would happen in the event that Trump loses the election but refuses to leave the White House. The president is the commander-in-chief. So the military might intervene to oust him. But, traditionally, the U.S. military does not interfere in politics,” Fowad Izadi, a professor of American studies at the University of Tehran, told the Tehran Times.

Trump and his allies continue to dispel rumors in this regard while seeking to cast doubt on the integrity of the election. The U.S. president has voiced concerns over the possibility that the election would be rigged. Trump said mail-in ballots would pave the way for Democrat governors to rig the election.

“It’s going to be fraud all over the place,” Trump said in June, adding, “This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country and we cannot let this happen.”

During a Nevada rally, Trump railed against the state’s governor, Steve Sisolak, saying the governor will do everything he can to rig the election.

“This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win these states. Who the hell is going to trust him?” Trump said of Sisolak. “The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”

In a tweet on September 15, the president also said, “We had great rallies this past weekend after the Governor of Nevada worked very hard to cancel all of our venues. Despite the fact that he controls the state, he failed but would have rather done rally outside. Can you imagine this man is in charge of the Ballots in Nevada!? Not fair, Rigged Election! Sisolak will use every trick in the book to cheat with Ballots.”

The issue of voter fraud has created a deep partisan divide among the Americans, with 43% Republicans versus 11% Democrats identifying voter fraud as a “major problem” associated with mail-in ballots, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center, which was published on September 16. The poll also found that 25% of Americans believe voter fraud is a major problem.

Izadi said this election is different from previous elections given the deep partisan divide and mail-in ballots. He also referred to Republicans and Democrats putting together lawyers to patrol the election as a sign that this election would be different and ambiguous.

“Mail-in ballots increases the likelihood of voter fraud. Besides, the institutions tasked with patrolling the election are involved in partisanship,” Izadi pointed out.

In an attempt to counter what some commentators call Trump’s disinformation campaign against the election, the Biden campaign has launched “the largest election protection program in presidential campaign history” by putting together a team of lawyers, according to the New York Times.

“Inside the campaign, they are creating a ‘special litigation’ unit, which will be led by Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Walter Dellinger, two former solicitors general, who are joining the campaign. Hundreds of lawyers will be involved, including a team at the Democratic law firm Perkins Coie, led by Marc Elias, which will focus on the state-by-state fight over vote casting and counting rules,” the New York Times said.

The Times added, “And Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general in the Obama administration, will serve as something of a liaison between the campaign and the many independent groups involved in the legal fight over the election, which is already raging in the courts.”

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