Republican leaders and election officials from both parties on Sunday sought to combat claims by Donald Trump that the election is rigged against him, amid signs that Trump’s contention is eroding confidence in the vote and setting off talk of rebellion among his supporters.
In a vivid illustration of how Trump is shattering American political norms, the Republican nominee is alleging that a conspiracy is underway between the media and the Democratic Party to commit vast election fraud. He has offered no evidence to support his claim.
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places — SAD,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
Trump made the incendiary assertion hours after his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, tried to play down Trump’s questioning of the fairness of the election. Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he and Trump “will absolutely accept the result of the election.”
Trump’s words, though, appear to be having an effect on his supporters, and are setting off deep concern among civil rights groups. According to an Associated Press poll last month, only one-third of Republicans said they had a great deal of confidence that their votes would be counted fairly. And election officials are worried that Trump’s continued pressing of the issue could dampen turnout or cause his supporters to deny the legitimacy of the results if he loses.
Last week, Trump called the presidential election “one big fix” and “one big ugly lie.”
Chris Ashby, a Republican election lawyer, said Trump’s attacks on the electoral process were unprecedented and risked creating a fiasco on Election Day. Ashby also said Trump was “destabilizing” the election by encouraging his supporters to deputize themselves as amateur poll monitors, outside the bounds of the law.
“That’s going to create a disturbance and, played out in polling places across the country, it has the potential to destabilize the election,” Ashby said, “which is very, very dangerous.”