The people of the United States woke up Wednesday without a clear winner in the country’s presidential election, as millions of ballots are still counted in critical battlefield states that will ultimately determine the winner.
However, this did not prevent Donald Trump from casting doubts about the electoral process, as the US president falsely stated that delays in announcing a winner are evidence of widespread electoral fraud.
Legal and electoral professionals in the US say there is no evidence to support Trump’s claims – and taking the time to make sure every vote is not counted in any way signals that something inappropriateness is going on.
“Counting ballots is not a scam. That’s what we do in elections – we count ballots, ”said Lonna Atkeson, director of the Center for Voting, Election and Democracy Studies at the University of New Mexico.
Atkeson told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview on Wednesday that people need to be patient and respect the process, which is “slow and arduous”.
Given the record high voter turnout, in part sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, election officials continued to count post-election day votes in multiple states that were both for Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s chances of winning the presidency are vital.
These include Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where both candidates held multiple campaign events ahead of Tuesday to bolster support.
The Trump campaign on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to stop counting in Michigan, demanding “meaningful access to numerous counting locations” to watch the process and review the ballots already counted.
Before the lawsuit was announced, Atkeson said it was difficult to stop a count.
“You must have a reason to stop counting. You can’t just stop counting and look around to see if the procedures are going right, ”she said. “That’s why you’ve set up poll challengers and legal teams across the country.”
“No Evidence At All”
Michael Gilbert, a professor of law at the University of Virginia pointed out that Trump’s recent comments on the integrity of the voting system are not new.
The president raised allegations of electoral fraud after the 2016 elections and said without evidence that three million votes were cast illegally. “There was never any evidence to support these claims,” Gilbert told Al Jazeera.
But this year a combination of specific circumstances has fueled the Republican leader’s unproven claims, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and an abundance of mail-in votes cast prior to election day.
With a record turnout, partly triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, election officials in several states continued to count the votes after election day [Mary Altaffer/AP]With so many postal ballot papers, the count takes longer than usual, and “time can raise doubts in people’s minds about the integrity of what is going on anyway,” Gilbert said.
That doubt can only increase as postal ballot papers, which are more widely used by Democratic Party voters compared to their Republican counterparts, are counted as leads in key states can potentially switch from Trump to Biden.
“There’s no reason I’ve seen anywhere to believe there’s a problem here,” Gilbert said. “It’s just time to count votes, and they count the votes. I don’t see any evidence of fraud. I don’t see any evidence that an election was stolen. “
This was confirmed by James Gardner, a law professor at the State University of New York in Buffalo, who said that there is “no electoral fraud in the US that should even be considered”.
“Since in today’s world you can’t say, ‘We’re trying to rig the elections in our favor,’ you have to say something else – and what they said is that we’re trying to control election fraud, and that is just a complete invention, ”Gardner told Al Jazeera.
The vote count just takes time and they count the votes. I don’t see any evidence of fraud. I don’t see any evidence that an election was stolen
A report last year by the Brennan Center for Justice, a bipartisan institute of the New York University School of Law, said allegations of electoral fraud are largely unfounded and are used to justify actions that disqualify voting.
“A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to impersonate another voter in the election,” the report said.
Gardner said that every US state has well-established legal processes in place to determine the results of upcoming elections.
Taking time to go through each vote doesn’t count in any way, suggesting something inappropriateness is going on, legal experts say [Matt Slocum/AP]These include a recount – which Gardner said almost never changes the original table – and what is known as an election campaign, a process that is usually started in court and in which a candidate, political party or voter can claim to be official Counting is wrong due to an irregularity.
None of this is unusual, Gardner explained – in fact, it is common.
“I think what worries people more right now is the people who will administer and make these decisions – namely the judges,” he said.
“Republicans have been working for decades to stack the judiciary at both federal and federal levels with loyalists. And it is not taken for granted today, as I think it might have been in the past, that the judges leading this trial will be impartial – or at least that’s the fear. “