(The Center Square) – President Donald Trump declined to make an overt commitment to a peaceful transfer of power if he should lose the Nov. 3 election, citing concerns he has with the accuracy of vote totals.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said during a news conference Wednesday. “You know that I’ve been complaining about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
Pushed further to make a clear statement that he would turn over power peacefully if he loses, the president refused to even contemplate the possibility.
“Get rid of the ballots, you’ll have a very transfer – you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly,” he said. “There’ll be a continuation. And the ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”
Reaction in the aftermath focused on the “get rid of the ballots” phrase, with critics arguing that the president wanted to throw out legally cast ballots in order to manipulate results, and defenders saying that he merely wanted to see ballot formats that could be subject to fraud replaced with something more secure.
The president has consistently complained about states moving to an increased reliance on mail-in ballots this cycle as a means to combat the spread of coronavirus, arguing that they are vulnerable to fraud. The president and his supporters argue that in-person voting can be conducted safely with proper social distancing procedures.
A number of swing states that expect far higher than normal numbers of mail-in ballots this year have already warned that they may not have meaningful vote totals to release on Election Day, raising the specter of a long wait to find out who the victor is.