The decisive rejection by the U.S. Supreme Court of an attempt by one state, Texas, to reject election results in four other states could prevent such an effort from being repeated in future presidential elections.
But the Texas trial wasn’t the only unprecedented attack on American democracy in the November presidential election, and other such efforts may intensify or spill over into future elections in an unknown hour.
Historians could mark 2020 as the time when Republicans applied the same zeal they used to attack democracy ahead of elections, through voter suppression and gerrymandering, to attack democracy from the back, trying to deny and nullify the results.
Here is a list of five post-election attacks on democracy by Donald Trump and Republicans that were new in 2020 but could haunt elections for years to come.
Particularly reckless and sustained accusations of electoral fraud
False accusations of voter fraud are part of the U.S. election, but Trump has professionalized the business, making bolder, more systemic statements of voter fraud than ever before and getting more elected officials to accept the lies than seemed possible before. the Trump era.
Republicans have normalized Trump’s bogus accusations by treating them as “legal challenges.” But by refusing to recognize the election result, Republicans gave weight to the idea that something unusual was brewing outside of Trump’s efforts to overthrow popular will, and they opened a window of months for as Trump’s lies circulate, during which faith in United States democracy has been damaged.
Political pressure on local election officials
Will the certification of election results in major counties once again be taken for granted? And will the partisan poison that reached the local level in 2020 corrupt the conduct of future elections at that level?
It was the year that local officials on both sides received death threats as they worked to complete the vote count and then certify the result. Many Republican officials, such as in Philadelphia, Michigan and Georgia, have responded to the pressure with expressions of outrage and courageous statements of principle. But other local Republican officials, such as in Detroit, have responded to any Trump charm offensive by trying to withdraw their certification from the county’s results.
In a healthier era for American democracy, no one paid much attention to the certification process, as it was considered an unexamined article of faith that voting was voting and that the only role of officials was to validate it. Now, there’s a good chance officials can follow instructions from the White House, the Republican National Committee, or someone else instead of voters.
External legal challenge to the certification of national election results
Trials have developed around elections before, but never in US history has an election been followed by a legal battle on the scale of the Trump campaign. Trump, the loser, has sued in all states, with multiple lawsuits, where returning the result could help him win.
The fact that Trump has lost virtually all lawsuits might not deter future presidential campaigns from incorporating a national post-election legal strategy into their victory plan: if you can’t win at the polls, try the courts.
Internal political challenges to the certification of national election results
Urged on by Trump, Pennsylvania lawmakers have asked the Supreme Court to prevent state certification of its outcome. Republican Senate candidates in Georgia have demanded that the Republican Secretary of State withdraw from certification there. The Arizona Republican Party has displayed extremely sharp behavior, demanding that the election not be certified and even challenging Twitter followers to express their will to die to prevent certification.
Overall, the efforts of these state officials to respond to Trump’s sudden demand to overthrow what everyone had previously recognized as a democratic process were timid and ineffective. But if state officials take seriously disrupting the certification process, they could prepare more for future elections.
The role of the president
Should a President of the United States, after an election, call in county election officials to certify the results? Should a president invite lawmakers weighing an intervention in their state’s certification process for lunch? Should a president denounce the mob on Twitter against a local elections official or a secretary of state who resisted his ploys?
Whatever damage America’s democracy does in 2020 goes largely to the source, to a president who saw nothing wrong in 2019 forcing a foreign leader to try to eliminate a political opponent, who made the loyalty of state governors. a condition of pandemic aid, and one that has now twisted the arms of elected officials across the United States in an effort to overthrow the will of American voters.
The role Trump has played in attacking the integrity of the American system is the most outrageous and unprecedented of all the ungodly perversions of democracy that 2020 has seen. Whether this role will be replicated or taken up in future White Houses and in future elections could make all the difference.