Donald Trump’s suggestion that he might try to delay the election — or might not accept the result — is rapidly coming to the forefront of the presidential campaign, foreshadowing a final stretch roiled not only by the coronavirus and the economy, but by clashes over the nation’s most fundamental democratic norms.
Though Trump has no authority to move the election — an idea he floated Thursday — Democrats are already bracing for Republican challenges to absentee ballots and at vote counting on Election Day. They have good cause to be prepared: the president has repeatedly raised the prospect of a “rigged election” and recently declined to say if he’ll accept the results.
Trump’s rhetoric points increasingly to the possibility that he will dispute the outcome in a year marked by primary election administration meltdowns — a prospect that is heightened by his absolute control of state and national party machinery and an attorney general who has amplified Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting fraud.
While the all-too-common Republican caterwauling about “election fraud” and “voter fraud” are something most of us who even casually follow politics are used to by now, the idea that President Trump would seriously consider contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election should be cause for great concern.