David Corn for Mother Jones:
Edward Foley has a nightmare. It’s a poli-sci horror tale. A professor of constitutional law and elections expert at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, Foley foresees a scenario for the coming election that could tear apart American democracy.
Peer ahead to election night and imagine a close contest between Donald Trump and the Democratic presidential nominee, so close that the results in Pennsylvania will decide the winner. As the evening proceeds, Trump is narrowly ahead in the Keystone State, with the news networks tallying the incoming votes. When 100 percent of the precincts report, Trump is up by 20,000 votes, and he tweets: “The race is over. Another four years to keep Making America Great Again.” But hold on. The next day—and in the days ahead—as the counting of absentee and provisional votes occurs in routine fashion, Trump’s lead declines. The election is being stolen, Trump proclaims. His devotees take to the streets. The final result comes in: The Democrat triumphs by several thousand votes. “THIS THEFT WILL NOT STAND,” Trump tweets, and he declares political war.
In a 55-page law review article published last year, Foley depicts in granular detail what could happen at this point, if Trump and the Republicans opt to challenge the Pennsylvania results. Here’s a spoiler: It’s a damn mess with no clear outcome. And this one case study of how the 2020 presidential race could become a disaster has caught the attention of academics, former government officials, and policy advocates who have been banding together in different forms to try to address the many ways the election might be disrupted or contested.