Unfounded Accusations Cloud Election Results

November 13, 2020

Kathryn DePauw
Editor in Chief

   Although tensions were high on election day, the voting process went relatively smoothly. The days following have been filled with uncertainty and accusations, once again, of widespread voter fraud. While Joe Biden has been called as the presumptive winner of the election, President Donald Trump promises a long legal battle.
   As expected, on election night President Trump took an early lead as in-person tallies were quickly processed and declared victory early Wednesday morning, stating, “Frankly, we did win this election.” He also, wrongly, claimed in that speech that it was “impossible” for Biden to overtake his lead in many states. Late into Tuesday evening, and as the days went on, mail-in ballots were tallied up and Biden took the lead in many battleground states. This seemingly quick flip-flopping of results has been cited by some Trump supporters as proof that the election was stolen from Trump through “illegal ballot dumps.”
   Election officials have been quick to reassure voters that there is no proof of illegal voting and that this is expected with such a large portion of the population voting absentee. With Democrats more likely to vote absentee, it was expected to see an increase in Biden votes once the counting of ballots began. In many contested states (including Michigan), Republicans passed legislation not allowing the early counting of mail-in ballots, thereby extending the process, delaying the results, and creating the change in the frontrunner.
   The Associated Press (AP) called the election for Biden late Saturday after days of ballot counting. Media declaring a winner is a normal part of our election cycle and, while it is not an official declaration, the call is only made when there is no longer a path to victory for the losing candidate. They are highly accurate: for example, the AP did not call the 2000 election, believing it to be too close to call (the Supreme Court decided that Bush, not Gore was the winner). Typically, once a call is made, the loser concedes so that the process may move forward and the idea of a peaceful transfer of power is reaffirmed in the American people.

   As Biden prepares for the obligations of office, Trump has refused to concede and has been examining his legal options. While it’s hard to know until results are certified if a state will have an automatic recount, candidates can pay for recounts in most states.

Photo by Nick Moug

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a Nov. 2 rally in Traverse City.

   Many Republicans back the president’s plan to contest the results, but there are some who feel that with almost five million more votes cast for Biden, little can be done to change the outcome. Trump’s unsupported accusations of manufactured illegal ballots and a stolen election, which led to a Thursday evening speech being cut off by many major news networks, are likely to continue.
   In the meantime, the process continues. By Dec. 8, all election disputes at the state level must be resolved. Once the results from each state are certified, governors around the country will prepare the Certificates of Ascertainment of the vote, which lists the electors’ names and the number of votes cast. Electors vote on Dec. 14, and in 33 states they are limited to voting along with the popular vote of that state. The certificates must be delivered to Congress by Dec. 23 and on Jan. 6, the House and Senate count the electoral votes and the president of the Senate (currently Vice President Mike Pence) announces the results.
   Members of Congress are allowed to object to any of the votes, but the reason for doing so must meet certain requirements. With so many other election results favorable to Republicans and such a strong lead for Biden, it’s hard to say if this is a pathway they would pursue. Either way, it is likely that this election cycle is far from over.

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