US President Donald Trump (Reuters)
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday said the 2020 Presidential elections “will be the most rigged election in our nations history,” ostensibly because of the rise in use of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus, igniting concerns that he may not leave office even if he loses.
In a pair of striking tweets, the U.S President cast doubts on the American electoral process already under a shadow after the events of 2016 when he was elected, specifically targeting mail-in ballots. Although mail-in ballots have been in use for decades, and was even used by Trump and his family members to vote in recent elections, the President now believes they will be manipulated to defeat him.
“RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” Trump tweeted in all caps, following it up with “Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations history – unless this stupidity is ended. We voted during World War One & World War Two with no problem, but now they are using Covid in order to cheat by using Mail-Ins!”
Pollsters and political commentators believe the urban-educated, who are more likely to be Democrats, will use mail-in ballots in greater numbers in the upcoming election to avoid going to polling stations because of fears of the coronavirus. Trump supporters, who are largely from middle or rural America and tend to be less educated, are more skeptical of the coronavirus and are more likely to vote in person.
Consequently, some pundits see Trump casting doubts on the mail-in process and preparing grounds for not conceding and leaving office in the event of a defeat. Already polls are showing the President iw trailing his presumptive rival Joe Biden by huge margins, even in toss up states. Saturday’s disastrous rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where only 6200 people turned up (according to the local fire department) after Trump had claimed millions had sought tickets, has furthered the impression that the President is heading towards a rout.
The U.S President was ridiculed on social media for his effort to sully the electoral process with critics reminding him that several surveys and studies had shown no significant problems with mail-in ballots and very few instances of voter id fraud that Trump alleges occurs in huge numbers. After losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump had suggested it happened because of illegal voting by immigrants but studies did not support the allegation.
In fact, liberals such as filmmaker-activist Michael Moore say Trump could lose the popular vote this time by an even bigger margin like 5 million votes, but could still get a second term by winning the electoral college, manufacturing victories in thinly-populated, white majority states in Middle-American to get the 270 electoral votes required for victory. Democrats also allege that Republicans are manipulating voter ID rules and polling stations, reducing them or making them inaccessible, to ensure the poor and minority do not vote.
In April this year, Trump claimed that “you get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room signing ballots all over the place” when mail-in voting is allowed. When asked for evidence, he promised to provide some but offered none. The President’s attacks on mail-in voting eventually prompted Twitter for the first time to append a fact-check to two of his tweets after he made patently false claims.
The row over the election process is getting more intense even as Trump is battling a series of books are seen as critical of him. Following former NSA John Bolton’s book saying that Trump is clueless and unfit for office, which the President was unable to stop from publication, he is now going after his niece Mary Trump, whose book Too Much And Never Enough due in August is said to paint an unflattering portrait of a younger Trump. The President has warned in interviews that she cannot publish book because she had signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Also in the works is Bob Woodward’s yet untitled book due September, a sequel to his 201b bestseller Fear.