Trump's attacks seen as undercutting confidence in 2020 vote
AP

Trump's attacks seen as undercutting confidence in 2020 vote

WASHINGTON — It was a startling declaration about one of the pillars of American democracy, all the more so given its source.

The president of the United States last week publicly predicted without evidence that the 2020 presidential election would be “the most corrupt election in the history of our country.”

“We cannot let this happen,” Trump told an audience of young supporters at a Phoenix megachurch. “They want it to happen so badly.”

Just over four months before Election Day, the president is escalating his efforts to cast doubt on the integrity of the vote.

It’s a well-worn tactic for Trump, who in 2016 went after the very process that ultimately put him in the White House. He first attacked the Republican primaries (“rigged and boss controlled”) and then the general election, when he accused the media and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign of conspiring against him to undermine a free and fair election.

“The process is rigged. This whole election is being rigged,” he said that October when polls showed him trailing Clinton by double digits as he faced a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations.

Then, as now, election experts have repeatedly discredited his claims about widespread fraud in the voting process.

In a country with a history of peaceful political transition, a major party candidate’s efforts to delegitimize an election amounted to a striking rupture of faith in American democracy. But to do the same as president, historians say, is unprecedented.

“Never,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley when asked whether any past U.S. president had ever used such language. “What you’re seeing is someone who’s an autocrat or a dictator in action.”

This year, Trump has seized on efforts across the country to expand the ability of people to vote by mail. It’s a movement that was spurred by the coronavirus, which has infected more than 2.4 million people in the U.S. and killed more than 125,000 nationwide. The virus is highly contagious and especially dangerous for older people, who typically vote in higher numbers and have been advised by federal health authorities to limit their interactions with others.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting, even in states with all-mail votes. Trump and many members of his administration have themselves repeatedly voted via absentee ballots. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from accusing Democrats of trying to “rig the election by sending out tens of millions of mail-in ballots, using the China virus as the excuse for allowing people not to go to the polls.”

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WASHINGTON — Here’s how Arizona members of Congress voted last week.

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