US ELECTION 2020: like it or not, Trump could sue for the Presidency…

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In the run-up to the US Presidential election – now under way – our student reporting team aims to explore, explain, enlighten and  even entertain you on the race for the White House.


President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a ‘Make America Great Again’ rally at Lancaster airport in Lititz, Pennsylvania on October 26.
Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA


VOTERS in the United States face the prospect of President Trump losing today’s election … but refusing to concede defeat.

In the run-up to today’s momentous vote, Trump has refused to say directly whether or not he would accept the election result – but has dropped enough heavy hints to suggest that if Joe Biden amasses the required electoral votes to become the 46th President, he won’t go gracefully.

Indeed, he could resort to legal means in a bid to secure a second term.

In September, when Trump was pushing to confirm Amy Cohen Barnett to the Supreme Court before the election, he said: “I think this [election] will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important that we have nine Justices.”

So, could Trump actually refuse the result?

And what happens if he does? 


President Donald Trump at a rally wearing his famous MAGA hat (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


This isn’t the first time Trump has suggested he would not accept an election result.

In a 2016 presidential debate, he refused to comment on the issue, stating: “I’ll look at it at the time.”

In US presidential elections the losing candidate normally concedes when the overall result becomes clear. This is an American tradition.

However, it is not mandatory nor a legal requirement.

If Trump refuses to concede and accept the results graciously, he could attempt to hold on to power through the courts, state houses, electoral colleges and senate.

Trump could file dozens of law suits, claiming there was a problem with the election.

Trump has claimed that mail-in-voting is fraudulent, as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives provided relief funds for the United States Postal Services (USPS). Trump claims this will directly benefit the Democrats during the election.

“[A presidential candidate] could file, for instance, dozens of lawsuits attempting to block counting of millions of mail-in-ballots,” said lawyer and former White House official Van Jones in his TED talk.

He added: “They could demand the states can refuse to certify the election because of alleged fraud or interference from a foreign power, or the loser’s party could send a rival slate of electors to the electoral college or congress and say ‘No, we’re the electors’.”

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)


The cause could end up in the House of Representatives (HOR) for the first time since the 1800 election between Jefferson and Burr. In the HOR they don’t have to pay attention to the popular vote: it would be taken by delegation – which is done state by state.

There are more Republican states (26) than Democratic states (24) although more people live in Democratic states. And so, Trump could hold on to power using this method.

Van Jones said: “This is a perfectly legal, perfectly constitutional coup.”

However, some have argued that while this is a possibility, it would not happen.

Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley told political website Politico: “The system would make fast work of any president who attempted to deny the results of the election.

“It’s not up to the candidate to decide if an election is valid. It’s not based on their satisfaction or consent. They have every right to seek judicial review.”

A similar fallout was demonstrated in the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W Bush.

Florida’s vote leaned towards the Republican party by a narrow margin, and the Democrats sued for a recount, which was confirmed by Florida’s Supreme Court – but reversed by the United States Supreme Court.

Thus, Bush won the electoral college vote 271 to 266 (presidential candidates need 270 to win).

Regardless of whether Trump accepts the vote or not, his comments have highlighted constitutional loopholes that have the potential to undermine American democracy.

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