By: Ramneet Jande
In an unexpected turn in the United States presidential election, current president Donald Trump is refusing to concede to President Elect Joseph R. Biden. The 2020 United States presidential election has been highly anticipated and watched all over the world. In the midst of a pandemic, the country is more divided than ever. Democratic nominee Joseph Biden and Republican President Donald Trump represent dramatically different views of how the country should be run.
The Associated Press, an American nonprofit news agency, called the race for Vice President Biden when he reached 290 electoral college votes, 20 more than the 270 votes needed to win the election. The final results of the election were 306 electoral votes for Biden and 232 for President Trump. Usually, after the race is called for a candidate, the runner-up will concede the election, as numerous other nominees have in past election years. President Donald Trump, however, has refused to do so and has cited several times that he has won the election via social media such as Twitter. Along with President Trump, the Republican party and several right wing news outlets are citing polling malpractice or voter fraud.
Dr. Keith Smith, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of the Pacific explains that voter fraud in the U.S. presidential election may occur, however the volume is so small that it does not affect the overall outcome of the election. It is a very rare occurrence and in the chance that it does happen there is a set of administrative checks in order to catch the fraud in person or through the mail.
This year due to the pandemic, many Americans decided to vote via mail in ballots, which President Trump claimed causes a lot of fraud. Professor Smith describes the process in place to ensure the ballots are legitimate. The ballot arrives by mail and after filling out the ballot, the voter will mail it back. The Registrar of Voters Department scans the ballot before even opening it up, and ensures that the voter’s signature matches the one on file. They will also check to make sure the same citizen did not vote in person as well. States will also go through their own certification process to make sure every vote is counted correctly and then call the election. On ballotpedia.org, a nonprofit online encyclopedia of American elections and politics, they have confirmed that 15 states have passed their election results certification dates, with 35 left to pass their dates yet. Then in mid-December, electors will vote for their states. Some states require that elector’s vote according to their state’s popular vote, although that is not the case for all.
A New York Times article, “The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud,” talks about how almost every official they have contacted from across 45 states has ensured them that no voter irregularities have occurred that would dramatically sway the election results. For the other four states, The Times reported they found public comments from state officials that said they also did not have issues.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that a Democratic nominee has been projected for the win, the current President refuses to concede and is pursuing litigation to undermine the legitimacy of several state’s voting processes, therefore making it more difficult for the President elect to make his transition into office and causing political unrest. The Biden administration has had to launch a campaign asking for donations from the public in order to fund the transition due to the Trump administration refusing to collaborate with them. The irony of the government asking citizens for money in the middle of a pandemic is not lost. A Pacific Legal Scholar, Shivanjali Deo, Political Science Major and a Pre-law, Sociology, Public Affairs Minor ’23 gives her thoughts on the election aftermath. She says that President Trump’s “ attempt to undermine and splash false claims about the voting process is really insulting to the process that we’ve had for decades. His false claims have also driven up his supporters who have been trying everything to change the results such as crowding ballot places and protesting heavily and sometimes dangerously.”
Trump continues to make these claims despite overwhelming evidence against them, causing lots of people to believe him and undoubtedly causing more political unrest. As for him pursuing litigation, according to Professor Smith, it is unlikely that any of the cases will lead to a significant outcome that would change the election results, due to the fact that most of the claims of these lawsuits are false and have insufficient evidence. In an important turn of events, The Associated Press has just reported that a federal judge, Matthew Brann, has turned down President Trump’s lawsuit which would stop vote certification in Pennsylvania. These votes can now be certified and show that Biden is leading. Regardless of President Trump breaking the norms and doing his best to change the election results, on Inauguration Day, when Biden is sworn in, he will cease to be president.