Millennium Post

'Stealing' an election

Stealing an election

For quite some time now, America and the rest of the world have been preparing for one of the most unusual and potentially problematic elections in US Presidental election history. All of it has been leading up to November 3, the day that has been called 'Election Day'. However, those familiar with American polity would understand that the process is far from over. On Election Day, only a handful of US states are set to have actually counted their votes. This is especially true with the emphasis this year on mail-in voting which is set to the dominant form of voting for the US as it battles its worst spike in COVID-19 cases as yet. Some states have started counting early, with a record number approaching a hundred million already having their votes counted across the nation. One of the problems here is with the states that have refused to start counting early and will only do so on election day. Naturally, with millions of votes to count, the process cannot reasonably be concluded on the so-called 'Election Day'. This is to be expected. Indeed, it is expected that mail-in votes will continue to trickle in for days if not weeks after November 3. This means that an early lead on Election Day technically doesn't mean much.

This is usually the case and US elections are never truly decided on Election Day. This time, however, the White House and the GOP Republicans have decided to target this fact by claiming that any votes being counted after election day raise the possibility of fraud and should be discounted. This ties in with their larger systemic attack on the very idea of mail-in votes. Before continuing further, it is important to try and establish why Trump and the Republican Party are going after the mail-in ballot. On the surface, Trump and his party say that mail-in voting will allow for the single biggest electoral scam in US history. Behind such a facade, however, experts say that the reasons lie elsewhere, Simply put, Trump and many of the Republicans believe that a mail-in vote will bring a larger amount of voters to the table and these voters are highly unlikely to vote for Trump, Many studies over the years have found that while more Americans identify with the values of the Democrats, Republican voters are more active in both voting and asserting their political opinions through activity. Indeed available data sets in the states that report party data shows that while the Democrats lead nationally in mail-in ballots, Republicans are leading for in-person ballots Once again, on the surface, this isn't a problem. There is no provision in the US Constitution for cut-off dates for when votes may be counted. Indeed, in the early days of the US, the election would not yield a result for several months owing to the technological restraints of that time. The problem begins when and if Trump or his party decide to move the US Supreme Court on the matter of ballots being considered invalid if they come in after election day. Already, Trump, his party and his allies have indicated that they intend to move court at the first sign of trouble. With a newly gained 6-3 majority, the Republicans are counting on support from the highest court of law in the US. Worryingly, Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh has already indicated his support for such an endeavour, should Trump take up this issue.

All in all, this election drama caps-off four years of the most unusual administration to ever hold the White House. A political outsider, Trump has broken from the political convention on almost every occasion. While this has earned him admirers, many see his unwillingness to act 'Presidental' as a sign of the new wave of US politics in the post-truth era of political incorrectness. In relation to this election, Trump has refused to affirm even the most basic concepts in any democracy, a peaceful transfer of power. It was during the 2016 elections that Trump took on the unusual public stance of seeming to not be ready to accept any adverse result in the election. Now, during his re-election, he has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election. While his party has rushed to reassure the public that Trump will abide by the election results, Trump himself has spent considerable time undermining the election at his rallies and allegedly setting up to contest the election results if they turn out to be unfavourable.

This has created an unprecedented and unnatural possibility for these elections. That both candidates call their victory as Trump refuses to concede after a potential loss. This would dip the US into a constitutional crisis for which it has no ready solutions. New mechanisms would have to be invented in this case to solve the conundrum. Ultimately, it is hard to say how far out of the ordinary these elections will actually be. US politics typically follow a rubber band effect. If one of the parties go too far in 'stealing' the election this time, they can expect an equal reaction when the shoe is on the other foot. For now, the only real possibility is that we will not know the new US President for quite some time to come.

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