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Rigged election concerns have sprouted in the US over the last few months, championed by Donald Trump as the race to the White House intensifies. Campaigning has significantly ramped up during the coronavirus pandemic, as the President hopes to draw attention away from accusations of mishandling the crisis. One of his methods has hinged on doubting the legitimacy of postal ballots – which most residents will use to vote this year.
What does rigged election mean?
Claims the 2020 election will end up rigged started with Donald Trump as his polling numbers took a nosedive earlier this year.
His claims suggested foreign powers or outsiders could influence the results using fraudulent ballots or other underhand methods.
In this sense, a rigged election is a campaign to place a preferred candidate in office by subverting democracy.
Donald Trump has turned his rhetoric squarely on the Democrats, stating they may “steal” the forthcoming election.
Speaking at the Republican National Convention yesterday, he suggested they were “using COVID to defraud the American people.”
He added: “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election. We’re going to win.”
The pandemic has necessitated an unprecedented level of mail-in voting this year, preventing potential transmission from queues at polling stations.
Could mail-in ballots “rig” the 2020 election?
Although Donald Trump has drawn up a lot of bluster around the method, experts have long dismissed his claims as a conspiracy theory.
Research from the Brennan Centre for Justice at the NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, found any postal vote fraud takes place on an insignificant level.
Their report, The Truth About Voter Fraud, found incidence rates of voter fraud between 0.0003 and 0.0025 percent, nowhere near enough to rig an election.
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A review of the 2016 election – which Donald Trump insists had a problem with fraud – found just four cases.
Government and judicial investigations have concurred, eliminating the basis for Mr Trump’s assertions.
Michael Brennan, President of the Brennan Centre, said Donald Trump’s championing of the conspiracy theory is what the “enemies” of democracy do.
He said: “The President of the United States should not be pushing fake news about our democracy.”
“That’s what the country’s enemies do. It’s not what our leaders do.”
Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, added: “There’s simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud. None.”
Donald Trump and members of his family have used mail-in ballots before, and all members of the US military have to use the method when deployed abroad.
Mail-in ballots have raised the possibility of a protracted result this year, as earlier elections took weeks to declare after a deluge of papers arrived at polling stations.
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