On Wednesday, while holding a surprise news conference at his Las Vegas hotel, Donald Trump seemed to reveal a potential Republican backup plan targeting appropriate counting of the ballots that are being cast for this year’s presidential election. During the news conference, Trump said that hopefully states “won’t be allowed by the various courts” to count ballots after Election Day, although counting ballots after “Election Day” has been done at a significant rate in the past, and counting all valid ballots is a fundamental part of the basic electoral process in the U.S. Nevertheless, Trump sounds ready to keep challenging the counting in court, adding to ongoing battles.
The premise of Trump’s new press conference was the rollout of Trump endorsements from groups including the Nevada Retail Association and the Nevada Trucking Association. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters:
‘Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to count ballots, that won’t be allowed by the various courts, because as you know, we’re in courts on that. As you know, we just had a big victory yesterday in Wisconsin on that matter, so hopefully that won’t be happening.’
Watch the president’s de facto endorsement of voter suppression below:
Trump on the ongoing legal battles over counting ballots after Nov. 3: "Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to count ballots, that won't be allowed by the various courts." pic.twitter.com/ckryTBuX0j
— The Recount (@therecount) October 28, 2020
This overall targeting of the vote-counting process might not be effective, but Trump and his allies seem eager to rush to the courts anyway. They’ve already done so; in recent days, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an extension of the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, where authorities had extended the deadline by a period of days. With the original deadline for receiving mail-in ballots of Election Day now back in place, if the Postal Service happens to bungle the delivery of a returned mail-in ballot to election authorities — then the voter who sent that ballot is out of luck. At no point was the requirement to submit ballots by Election Day affected; authorities wanted to compensate for potential mail slowdowns. With Democrats tending to favor voting by mail, impediments to the mail-in voting process could disproportionately affect Democrats and suppress anti-Trump turnout.
There is no law-based reason that final results must be known by Election Night — in fact, states already do not officially certify their results until significant periods of time after Election Day. Observations from experts and forecasts from media organizations are what provide a feeling of clarity about a given election in the time before those official certifications of results. There is no basis from which to allege that delayed results automatically entail something nefarious.