Fraudulent claims: The Hindu Editorial on Trump’s poll delay talk

President Donald Trump imperilled the confidence of his fellow citizens in the November 2020 U.S. presidential election, when he asked via Twitter whether he ought to postpone it due to concerns surrounding the possibility of fraud owing to mail-in voting. This form of voting, which includes absentee voting but can include broader measures for voting via the postal system, is expected to occur on a large scale owing to social distancing measures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. His tweet has raised a furore, with speculation that the President may be toying with the idea of delaying the democratic exercise beyond November 3 after trailing his Democratic challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden, in the opinion polls. The U.S. elections, the dates for which are fixed by federal statute through Congress, have never in history been delayed, including during the Civil War era and the World Wars. Further, five States offer universal mail-in voting to all their registered voters. Nevertheless, this is not even the first occasion on which the 45th President has lashed out at mail-in voting as a fraudulent process. In May 2020 he attacked the California government for sending out mail-in ballots and was swiftly fact-checked by Twitter, showing little evidence to support the claim that mail-in voting will lead to fraud.

While it is safe to assume that there is a near-negligible chance of the election getting postponed, principally due to the wisdom of the country’s founding fathers in separating power across the executive, legislature and judiciary, the bigger question that looms in the shadow of the first Trump presidency is the damage done to the fabric of American democracy so far. At the formal level, Mr. Trump has suffered the ignominy of being only the third U.S. President ever to get impeached by the House of Representatives, on the serious charges of abuse of power, potentially including a compromise of national security involving a foreign government, and of obstructing justice during a Congressional investigation into allegations of wrongdoing against him. However, even this political embarrassment pales in comparison to the torrents of hateful rhetoric associated with his administration. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, nativism and economic and geopolitical isolationism appear to be the buzzwords that have shaped White House policy outlook since 2017. The sheer depth of rancour and disenchantment that this has generated across America can only be understood over the decades to come. Now, with exactly three months remaining until the scheduled presidential poll, voters at last have an opportunity to ask themselves whether their rightful indignation about elitism and stasis in Washington warranted electing in a President who brazenly disregarded innumerable tenets of the law.

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