Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times Magazine:
The strategy was now in full view: Flood every state, every television news network, every newspaper and news feed with manufactured evidence of fraud to suppress Democratic votes before Election Day — and to knock them out of state-by-state tallies in the courts and counting rooms afterward. In September, Trump’s power to affect the outcome reached a new level when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and Mitch McConnell lined up the votes for a fast confirmation of the Supreme Court’s sixth conservative member. Increasingly, longtime election experts were seeing “a pathway for something other than voters choosing the next president,” said Richard Hasen, a professor at the University of California-Irvine School of Law who writes the widely read Election Law Blog.
The movement to convince the country that voter fraud is a present danger to democracy has itself become a present danger to democracy. It has melded fully into the president’s re-election campaign. The argument is now that the only way Trump can lose this election is through sweeping voter fraud that benefits his opponent; any outcome in which he doesn’t win, therefore, can be considered illegitimate. This, Trump says, is why he refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power: Only fraud can beat him, and fraud is everywhere.
But unlike four years ago, when his campaign laid the groundwork for a similar argument, Trump is now aiming the full force of the United States government — its lawyers, its Postal Service, even its armed officers — at a false threat that has been used to disenfranchise American citizens since the darkest days of the republic. He is doing it in the service of one goal: to maintain his own grip on power.
“When you see them cheating with those ballots, all of those unsolicited ballots, those millions of ballots, you see them, any time you do, report them to the authorities,” he said at a late September election rally in Toledo, Ohio. “The authorities are waiting, and watching.”