Hidden behind a Twitter warning that “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,” President Trump tweeted the following:
It is hard to know whether this tweet is more ridiculous or more dangerous.
It is ridiculous because all that the U.S. Supreme Court did was allow the state of Pennsylvania to count ballots that arrive by Nov. 6 if they are postmarked by election day or lack a visible postmark. Many states have much greater deadlines for the receipt of mail-in ballots. In California, it can be 17 days. Even those who think that the U.S. Supreme Court should have rolled the Pennsylvania deadline back to November 3 don’t think it will lead to fraud; the objection has to do with the relative power of the state legislature and the state supreme court applying the state constitution to set election deadlines. There is absolutely no evidence of widespread fraud or cheating that comes from counting ballots in a public process, even if those ballots are counted after election day or arrive after election day.
But it is dangerous because here is the president, on his own, raising the specter of violence. We know stores are boarded up and people are very tense over this election, which both sides tend to view in existential terms. Rather than fan the flames or raise the risk of violence, the President should be calling for all Americans of good faith to come together in the midst of the pandemic and to exercise our sacred franchise.
I don’t expect violence tomorrow night, but Trump’s statements have made things so much worse. It shows you how much the public and media have become worn down and how this has been accepted as relatively normal that this tweet on the eve of the election is not covered in nonstop special reports on every network and news station. If any other President did this, it would surely be. But for Trump, it’s just another in a series of incendiary tweets.
People died for the right to vote and our election administrators and volunteers have worked tirelessly to insure that a record-setting number of Americans can vote safely and securely, even during the pandemic. We should put this despicable tweet to the side, put our heads down, and push forward into assuring we can have a fair election.