Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results are unlikely to go very far, even so, the efforts at doing so have exposed gaping holes in the American democratic system that could very well be exploited by future authoritarians. It would behoove Americans to take notes and start plugging some the holes before it is too late. Here is how Trump is trying to flip the election in his favor.
Audits and Recounts
Thus far, Trump has pushed for audits and recounts in two battleground states, Georgia and Wisconsin. The Georgia audit yielded a net gain for Trump, while the Wisconsin recount yielded a net gain for Biden. Neither effort, however, came close to changing the outcome of the election in those states thus far.
While recounts aren’t unusual or particularly worrisome, the direct intervention of some members of Congress who have tried to use their party affiliation to “throw out” some votes is particularly troubling, as has happened in Georgia at the behest of Lindsey Graham. The practice of applying political pressure to toss out votes without a valid reason for doing so should be criminalized.
Trump and his allies have launched about 38 lawsuits thus far in an attempt to toss out votes in key battleground states, with a particular focus on Pennsylvania. Trump has lost 37 of these lawsuits so far. Certainly Trump is will within his right to bring lawsuits, but these lawsuits appear designed more to create confusion and sow doubt than to actually win court cases.
Indeed, some of these lawsuits have been downright ridiculous, from alleging that sharpies used in Arizona resulted in fewer Trump votes, to a conspiracy in Georgia involving the CIA and “rigged” Dominion voting machines. Most of these lawsuits have been swiftly dismissed as completely lacking in evidence, with strong rebukes from the judges who have heard them.
In the United States, voters do not directly choose the President. Instead, each state is allocated a certain number of electors that are, in theory at least, supposed to vote along with the popular vote in their state. In some states, however, it is legal for electors to override the popular votes, in other states it is not.
Here, Trump has focused on Michigan, summoning Michigan GOP officials to the White House just days before Michigan was to certify their electors. Everyone at that meeting denied that Trump summoned them to pressure them into blocking certification of electors, but if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. Nonetheless, the tactic didn’t work and Michigan certified their electors without issue.
Exposing Deep Flaws
While the United States may be the inventor of the Western democratic system, I think it is fair to argue that America has grown complacent. The electoral college system, which served a purpose (and one might argue still does) should not be open to blatant manipulation. Even if we preserve the Electoral College, it should not be possible for electors to vote against the popular vote in their state. If the electors can do so, even in just one state, why bother having the election at all?
Additionally, the United States is perhaps the only major democracy without an independent voting commission that oversees complaints and sets basic ground rules for elections and voting procedures. A nation that is comprised of 50+ different sets of rules, regulations, and practices for voting is more open to manipulation, fraud, as well as the false perception thereof. It’s time for some uniform systems to be put in place to ensure the survival of America’s Democracy.