President Trump has some concerns about the upcoming election. He thinks the Democrats will corrupt the voting ballots, and if that appears to cost him the election, he might not give up his power so easily.
But how would that work? If a sitting president loses fair and square, can they still dispute the results and refuse to leave office? Does the government have a peaceful solution for this? Or would he have to be removed by force?
Many people think that the military would be the ones to force a defeated President from office. But that’s not the case.
If there are any disputes over the outcome of an election, it’s up to the U.S. court system and the U.S. Congress to resolve them, not the U.S. military. But what if the president doesn’t trust their decision either? Would it take a civil uprising to get him out? Or is there a more sophisticated process already in place?
Only 22% of Americans believe that the upcoming election will be “free and fair”. There are many reasons for this skepticism, including potential corruption and tampering of the process.
And even without those, the United States electoral system is already overcomplicated and has lots of room for dispute. Just look at 2016, where the candidate with the most votes did not win the election.
One of the main reasons the system is so complicated is because of something called the Electoral College. In most American elections, individuals are elected by popular vote. But the president and vice president are chosen by “electors” in the Electoral College.
Every state gets a number of electors based on their number of members of Congress. There are 538 electors in total, and each state’s political party chooses its electors. A presidential candidate needs at least 270 electors to win the presidential election.
When someone votes for president, the vote goes into a statewide tally. In most states, all the elector votes go to the winner of that tally. The constitution does not require the electors to follow their state’s popular vote, but many states’ laws require it.
However, there have been cases where electors challenged the laws and voted against the popular opinion. With all this considered, you can see how this electoral process has lots of room for controversy.
So, let’s say President Trump loses fair and square this November, but he says the results aren’t clear enough for him to accept. What would happen next?
Well, on January 20th, he would skip the inauguration on Capitol Hill, and instead would declare that the election was rigged. The U.S. military would salute President Biden, meaning that Trump could no longer command them to do anything.
If he tried to, and some members obeyed him, they would be tried and convicted on mutiny and sedition charges. Foreign leaders would cut off relations with the U.S. ambassadors, awaiting instructions from President Biden.
Biden’s acting attorney general would write up arrest warrants for President Trump with charges of criminal trespassing, at the very least. Trump could remain in the Oval Office, but it would soon be cut off from power.
But this is all essentially a best-case scenario. In reality, things could get a lot more complicated, as civilians might get involved. If Trump says that the election was rigged, his passionate followers might take to the streets.
We’ve seen people explicitly declare support for Trump or use his slogans during acts of violence before. So what would stop some of his more extreme supporters from rallying together to “fight back” for him this time?
Any act of violence here could further separate the public into Democrats and Republicans, even more severely than they are now. And if the civilians don’t trust the government to fix things, could this lead to another civil war?
Well, let’s hope it doesn’t get that bad. Regardless of who wins this election, a lot of people are going to be upset. But what’s important is that the U.S. finds a way to move forward to become a more unified nation. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a time machine so we could just skip into the future and see how this all plays out?
- “The Election That Could Break America”. Gellman, Barton. 2020. The Atlantic.
- “Presidential Election Process | Usagov”. 2020. usa.gov.
- “Library Guides: Post-Election 2016 Recap & Resources: Voter Turnout”. 2020. guides.libraries.psu.edu.
- “Violence in the name of Trump”. Swaine, Jon, and Juweek Adolphe. 2020. The Guardian.
- “Trump Can’t Just Refuse To Leave Office”. Kaplan, Fred. 2020. Slate Magazine.
- “What if Trump loses but won’t concede? How a constitutional crisis could play out”. EVAN HALPER, ELI STOKOLS, DAVID G. SAVAGE 2020. Los Angeles Times.