Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that the US election is being “rigged”, questioned the legitimacy of its outcome and refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power.
No President in modern history has openly undermined the public’s faith in the electoral system in the way President Trump has.
And while the White House has insisted there will be a peaceful transfer of power whoever wins the election, Trump’s sustained outbursts have caused widespread alarm.
But could Trump really refuse to accept the result – and what would happen if he did?
Here’s a round up of what Trump has been claiming – and some of the possible scenarios.
What is Trump claiming?
For months Trump has been questioning the legitimacy of the upcoming Presidential Election.
The President, who currently trails opponent by around 7 points in polls, has claimed the poll would be the most “inaccurate and fraudulent election in history” and an “embarrassment to the USA.”
He says he’s concerned about postal voting, which he has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, is vulnerable to fraud.
Around a quarter of votes were cast by mail in the 2016 election.
Some states require a reason for allowing a postal vote, others do not.
And following the coronavirus pandemic, the number of postal votes is expected to grow massively.
Six states are planning to hold ‘all mail’ ballots in the 2020 contest.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the system, according to numerous studies.
Oregon, for example, has held postal only votes since 2000, and in that time has only reported 14 attempts of fraud – out of millions of total votes cast.
Also, Trump votes by mail-in ballot. Seriously.
So far, so Trump. Why are people getting worried?
Because, like a Bond villain foolishly explaining his plan to 007, Trump keeps hinting at what he wants to do.
Most recently, he’s refused to commit to a “peaceful transition” of power if he loses the election
At a press conference last week, President Trump said: “We’ll have to wait and see what happens“ – citing his repeated, false claims that mail-in ballots being vulnerable to fraud.
He’s also called the integrity of the election into question by saying: “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged.”
And he seems to be trying to ratchet up tensions, not soothe people’s fears.
In the days following his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, the President started retweeting a lot of pro-gun tweets.
One tweet read: “NRA members fight harder than any other group to protect the Constitution against politicians like (Joe) Biden, (Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala) Harris, (House Majority leader Nancy) Pelosi and (Senate Minority leader Chuck) Schumer.
“They want to rip up our Constitution and destroy our 2nd Amendment.”
The second amendment is the part of the US Constitution which, it is argued, guarantees the right to own weapons.
Meanwhile, following President Trump’s comments, Republican Representative Thomas Massie, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, tweeted: “In the spring, stores sold out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. This fall, they sold out of ammo.”
Is there anything else concerning people?
Trump has pledged to send “law enforcement” to polling places on election day to ‘guard against voter fraud.’
This is probably illegal under federal law, which prohibits any “civil” or “military” federal officer to order “troops or armed men” to polling places, unless needed to “repel armed enemies of the United States.”
Sure, but if he loses, he’ll have to leave office, right?
It’s not quite as simple as that.
Mail-in ballots can still be accepted, in some states, for a few days after election day.
That means it’s possible – indeed likely – that the result of the election won’t be announced on election night.
Plus, polls suggest a much higher proportion of mail-in ballots are likely to be voting for Joe Biden.
So a lot of people are worried about a nightmare scenario where Trump claims victory based on in person voting on election night – then refuses to accept votes counted afterwards, even if they show he hasn’t won.
What happens if the President refuses to leave office?
It ends up in the courts.
Which is one of the reasons Trump is in such a rush to have his Supreme Court nominee confirmed before the election.
You can read more about that below.
Trump complaining about fraudulent voting. That sounds awfully familiar…
That’s because he made some very similar claims after the 2016 election, to claim that he had in fact won the popular vote.
In reality, the popular vote was won by Hilary Clinton.
But Trump falsely claimed “three to five million” fraudulent votes had been cast in the election.
He claimed there were “massive” problems with illegal immigrants voting. There were not.
He said people “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting”. That wasn’t true either.
In fact, as with mail ballot fraud, there is no evidence of widespread in-person voter fraud in the US now, or at any time in modern history.
Trump went to the extent of setting up the Voting Integrity Commission, to establish evidence of fraud in the 2016 election.
It disbanded in 2018, without finding any evidence of widespread voter fraud.