President Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful presidential transition Wednesday comes as Republicans across the country are taking concrete steps that threaten to undermine the integrity of the election, particularly in key battleground states.
Trump’s comments about the transition were only the latest instance where he’s actively sought to sow doubt into the legitimacy of the election. But beyond Trump’s rhetoric, his campaign and Republicans at the state and local level are moving to make it more difficult for voters to cast a ballot, more difficult for states to count votes and more likely that tallies will be challenged in the courts — with a particular focus on mail-in voting, which is being dramatically scaled up this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those efforts, along with Trump’s repeated baseless claims that the election will be rigged, threaten to eat away at the public’s confidence in the outcome, regardless of whether Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden is declared the winner. They come amid a contentious fight over filling the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a situation where Trump could be picking the person who decides his electoral fate.
“I spent 38 years as a Republican lawyer going into precincts looking for evidence of fraud. There are, to be sure, isolated cases, but nothing like the widespread fraud that would somehow invalidate an election or cause anyone to doubt the peaceful transfer of power,” Ben Ginsberg, who helped litigate the 2000 election on George W. Bush’s behalf, told CNN’s John King on Thursday. “So what’s different about this is a president of the United States going right at one of the pillars of the democracy without the evidence that you have got to have to make that case.”