Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t sound like Donald Trump is particularly confident in the handling of this week’s midterm elections across the United States. Before 3 o’clock in the afternoon on the East Coast, he had already singled out multiple states for supposed electoral problems, urging action by his supporters.
Anything close to such a statement from the former president obviously mirrors what happened around the 2020 presidential election, which culminated in part with the Capitol riot. Since that Trump-inspired attack on Congress, the former president has grown only increasingly accepting of political violence. In another recent rant that went up on his alternative social media site Truth Social, Trump called for releasing all of those detained in connection to January 6. He made no distinction between non-violent and violent offenders or those in pretrial detention and those already sentenced to prison. “Also, start treating the January 6th Protestors fairly,” he said. “Let them all go now!” Before those comments, he already raised the prospect of pardoning participants in the Capitol riot if he regains the presidency.
This time around, Trump got to the business of inciting his supporters well before Election Day concluded. “Reports are coming in from Arizona that the Voting Machines are not properly working in predominantly Republican/Conservative areas,” Trump claimed. “Can this possibly be true when a vast majority of Republicans waited for today to Vote? Here we go again? The people will not stand for it!!!” The issues to which Trump is referring were recorded in Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s largest county by population — and which went for Biden in the 2020 elections, despite Trump’s suggestion Republicans are being targeted. The machines at issue are tabulators, and voters still have options for casting a ballot even if they ended up at a polling place with a machine issue. It’s worth noting the county was forced to replace its tabulation equipment after the 2020 elections because it was compromised by a sweeping audit.
“Pennsylvania just announced that it could take days to determine the winner. This is outrageous!” Trump claimed in another post. He was misrepresenting the situation. It was already clear well before the election that getting a final total from Pennsylvania could take awhile because authorities weren’t even permitted to start processing mail-in ballots before Election Day. Republicans are in control of both chambers of Pennsylvania’s state legislature, where they could formulate a plan to speed up the tabulation process, if they wanted.
Trump also singled out Detroit, which was targeted by a recently dismissed lawsuit from plaintiffs including the former president’s pick for Secretary of State in this year’s Michigan elections. “The Absentee Ballot situation in Detroit is REALLY BAD,” Trump claimed. “People are showing up to Vote only to be told, “sorry, you have already voted.” This is happening in large numbers, elsewhere as well. Protest, Protest, Protest!”
The anecdotal nature of Trump’s claims makes it unclear what he’s talking about, but that last sentence, urging his followers to “protest,” isn’t a great sign. It was in Detroit after the 2020 election where those in charge eventually put cardboard in the windows of a vote-tabulation center, protecting the personal information of voters from onlookers. Some of those assembled outside the premises supporting the now former president even started banging on the windows.
“They are now saying that about 20% of the so-called Voting Machines in Maricopa County are not counting the Votes that have been placed in the Machine,” Trump added on Tuesday. “Only Republican areas? WOW! Kari Lake, Blake Masters, and all others are being greatly harmed by this disaster. Can’t let this happen, AGAIN!!! I believe Attorney General Mark Brnovich is on the case, big time. He has a chance to be the biggest hero of them all, and at the same time save our Country from this Cancer from within!!!” There is no evidence of any conspiracy underlying the problems with the machinery, and it’s unclear whether any ballots have been destroyed or lost amid the issues.
Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons