Fraud accusations will be widespread in U.S. election: professor

November 1, 2020 - 23:46
By Mohammad Mazhari

TEHRAN - An American academic predicts that the Tuesday presidential election will witness a lot of "technical challenges" and "widespread accusations of fraud".

Michael Hollingsworth, A professor at the University of South Alabama, predicts that "there will be riots and some civil unrest" in the aftermath of the election "but nothing as serious as an insurgency." 

"There are a lot of technical challenges to this particular election, and accusations of fraud will be widespread," Michael tells the Tehran Times.
The following is the text of the interview:

Q: Do you expect any meaningful shift in U.S. policies if Joe Biden wins the presidential election?  

A: There will be large shifts in policy if Biden wins the election. Some of that depends on the outcome of senate control as well. If Democrats have a majority in the Senate in addition to the house and the presidency, there will be larger policy changes. These will be on both the domestic policy and foreign policy fronts. He has not been particularly transparent regarding actual plans for foreign policy changes. I believe it is likely that Biden will embrace liberalism as a strategy regarding international relations. This is contrary to Trump's realist approach and is similar to what the Obama administration implemented. This will possibly bring a willingness to renegotiate a nuclear plan of action with Iran, significantly reduce sanctions, and negotiate agreements with other countries. Whether he wins or not, the U.S. is likely to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and other parts of the world.  

Q: The New York Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information Trump has hidden from public view. What is your comment?

A: The New York Times reporters don't bother to report all of the details of Trump's tax returns. These returns are usually several thousand pages long and are not public records. No one's taxes are public record. The reporters also have a biased view of Trump, so that has to be taken into account. At this point in the election, with the polarization that is already present, I do not see the release of limited tax information as having a major impact on the election. The majority of the electorate has already made up their minds and simply uses information like the tax returns and reasons they were released to justify or cement their beliefs. 

 Q: Don’t you think that Trump's infection with COVID-19 is evidence that he has failed to control the pandemic and this would affect his reelection bid? 

A: I think it was a simple infection that will not have a drastic effect on the election outcome. He never had severe symptoms. Some media outlets tried to discredit him because he contracted the disease, but I do not think it changed many opinions regarding his presidential candidacy.  

Q: Don’t you predict a civil war if one of the nominees refuses to accept the election results?

A: I do not predict a civil war in the United States. A candidate can refuse to accept the results. There will likely be many court filings, and the widespread use of mail-in ballots might delay the election results since they have to be counted but cannot be counted until the 3rd of November. There are a lot of technical challenges to this particular election, and accusations of fraud will be widespread. Despite this, there will be a clear winner at some point. If Trump refuses to accept that he will be removed. 

However, the population might cause some problems, but this will not rise to anywhere near the severity of a civil war. 

This is probably more likely if Trump wins. There will be riots and some civil unrest, but nothing as serious as an insurgency. 

The United States can handle anything that comes up in an appropriate manner, including Trump, if he refuses to leave office or Biden if he attempts to claim victory when official results do not support it. There is no doubt that the election is going to be nasty, though. It's really unfortunate. The court system, which will be used extensively, should not have to decide these things. 
Q: How do you assess the U.S. position, especially after Trump’s withdrawal from international agreements? Could Trump bring peace and security to America and the world?

A: The U.S. position in world affairs has not suffered tremendously under Trump's policies. Foreign leaders and the United Nations have complained quite a bit, but that does not impact the United States. Iran has suffered extensively under sanctions, which is unfortunate with the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

That agreement could have been handled better. Overall, world leaders can complain about the United States, but that has little impact on substantive power. The withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord was unfortunate, but that accord did not accomplish much. There were no enforcement mechanisms. Threatening to withdraw from NATO was not good, but that was just a threat, and the U.S. isn't going to actually do that. Withdrawing from treaties with Russia did not have a great effect either, considering they already had plenty of ground-launched cruise missiles that can violate that treaty and have had them for quite some time. The issues Trump has raised with China have probably been the most prominent with the trade issues but were not necessarily bad. 

It's an attempt to reign in illegal activity. Much of the United States' criticism rests as much with Trump's personality as it does with any actual policy impact. There is something to be said for that, though. His lack of diplomatic decorum has hurt things more than any policy shift.

I do not think Trump intended to attempt to negotiate peace for the world. He worked to bring security to the United States, and for the most part, this has been the case, and progress has been made on that front regarding long-term goals. 
Some view his policies as more of an isolationist doctrine, but this is really pushing the term's boundaries. 

There have recently been several prominent peace agreements reached that were in part brokered by the United States, but given the nature of the international system, having a single national power bring peace to the world is not really a viable goal anymore. 
Regional stability is the best one can hope for.    
Q: Can Trump resort to Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto streets to quell possible protests over the election results?

A: Trump can use the Insurrection Act to quell riots but will not do so, and would not order active-duty personnel to engage civilians directly. The Insurrection Act of 1807, amended in 1878 with the Posse Comitatus Act, could be used to quell any type of insurrection or even large-scale riots. Still, it will not be used to engage civilians with active-duty military forces directly. It has been used a few times in the past, mainly with riots in Los Angeles, natural disasters, and civil rights matters during the 1960s. Most of these deployments are limited and normally involved National Guard troops rather than active-duty personnel. In current times, they would most likely serve in a support role rather than actively engage civilians. There is a strong precedent against not using troops to deal with internal unrest unless it exceeds law enforcement capability. America has an extremely large and capable law enforcement apparatus. The exception to this would be an actual insurrection, which would be quickly dismantled by military forces. Riots are one thing and can be handled with conventional resources. The Insurrection Act, regarding the deployment of active-duty forces, is meant for actual insurrections. The law enforcement aspects of the act are no longer as important as they once were given police power in the United States. There would be an incredible push-back if Trump attempted to use the act to deploy troops in an aggressive fashion.