What Happens if Trump Loses But Refuses To Concede?

The Democrats May Not Be Able to Concede

A contested result and the risk of civil unrest would pose a dilemma for Congress, courts and the military
What Happens if Trump Loses But Refuses To Concede?
 As Americans prepare to cast their vote in the US election, a nightmare scenario looms large: what if Donald Trump were to lose the presidency but refuse to accept defeat?

Mr Trump has repeatedly refused to commit to accepting the election outcome, predicted widespread fraud, and claimed that the results from postal voting — which is expected to surge because of the coronavirus pandemic — might not be known “for months or for years”.

His Democratic rival Joe Biden has accused Mr Trump of trying to steal the election and claimed the military would escort him from the White House if he refused to leave.

With the stage set for a dramatic showdown in the event of a close-run result, a constitutional crisis could play out against the backdrop of violent unrest in the streets — something that has flared in several US cities in recent months.
 The Supreme Court and Congress might play a role in determining who takes the Oval Office. But legal scholars stress that resolving a disputed election should come down to good faith and a willingness to reach a compromise. In short, one candidate and their party would have to accept they have lost.

Edward Foley, a professor at Ohio State University who has studied the vulnerabilities in the US election system, said that both sides have defined the election as an existential test for the country, which would “make it hard to concede defeat”.

Much rests on the character and calculations of Mr Trump and Mr Biden, although neither would be able to dispute the election without the backing of state and federal party machinery.

“The candidate can’t just [create a crisis] by himself,” Mr Foley said. “They’re going to need some institutional players in the system to support their moves.”

It would not be the first time in recent history that the US political class has waged legal warfare after polling day. In 2000, court battles between George W Bush and Al Gore over vote counting in Florida escalated to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Mr Bush’s favour by stopping a recount. Mr Gore conceded, rather than escalate the fight to Congress.

 David Boies, who argued for Mr Gore at the Supreme Court, said he thought it was unlikely America’s top court would again intervene to in effect decide the outcome.

“If they did, I think there are many including myself that would urge Biden . . . to take [his] case to the Congress,” he said. Under the constitution, it is Congress that has responsibility for counting Electoral College votes.

Any election dispute will probably unfold in three phases after polling day. States have until December 8 to resolve any disputes over the vote, with state electors casting their Electoral College votes on December 14.

The newly elected Congress then tallies those votes on January 6, in a joint session led by Mike Pence, the incumbent vice-president who is also president of the Senate.

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