President Donald Trump said at the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, that he may be “counting on” the Supreme Court to check the ballots for the presidential election on Nov. 3 should the results be disputed.
At Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday, the president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden both said that final results may not come to light on election night, hinting at the potential for delays amid a surge in mail-in ballots due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Biden accused Trump of “trying to scare people” into thinking their votes will not be legitimate, while Trump alleged a rigged election.
Trump said, when asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace whether he would turn to the Supreme Court to settle any dispute: “I think I’m getting them [the Supreme Court] to look at the ballots, definitely. I hope we don’t need them in terms of the election itself. But for the ballots, I think so.”
“This is not going to end well,” the Republican president said, adding that universal mail-in voting, or what he now calls unsolicited ballots, is conducive to fraud.
“He’s just afraid of counting the votes,” Biden said of the prospect of the Supreme Court being brought in to resolve disputes. “I am concerned that any court will settle this.”
Biden Signals Trust in Mail-In Ballots
Biden contended that “over the years with mail-in voting [there] has not been fraud.” He also said that FBI Director Christopher Wray “said there is no evidence at all that mail in ballots are a source of being manipulated and cheating.”
Wray had told the House Homeland Security Committee on Sept. 24, “we have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise. We have seen voter fraud at the local level from time to time.”
Biden said at the debate that there will be millions of people voting by mail and also noted that Trump himself had requested a mail-in ballot.
“Five states have had mail-in ballots for the last decade or more, five, including two Republican states,” he added. “And you don’t have to solicit the ballot, it’s sent to you. It’s sent to your home.” He later called the mail-in voting system “honest.”
Biden also said that election officials will make sure that people who are voting in person will be able to vote.
“Show up and vote, you will determine the outcome of this election vote, vote, vote, if you’re able to vote early in your state, vote early, if you’re able to vote in person, or in person, vote whatever way is the best way for you, because you will,” Biden said. “He cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election in terms of whether or not when the votes are counted, and they’re all counted.”
Trump Alleges Potential for Fraud
But Trump pushed back and made a distinction between universal mail-in voting and absentee voting—what he calls solicited ballots and unsolicited ballots, respectively.
“A solicited ballot. Okay, so listen, it is okay. You’re soliciting? You’re asking, they send it back, you send it back. I did that,” Trump said. “If you have an unsolicited—they’re sending millions of ballots all over the country—there’s fraud.”
The president pointed to multiple instances of irregularities and errors that have occurred in the early votes.
“They found them in creeks, they found some with the name Trump just the other day in a wastepaper basket,” he said. “That [was] being sent all over the place.”
“They sent two in a Democrat area, they sent out a thousand ballots—everybody got two ballots,” the president added. “This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.”
Trump appeared to be referring to:
- An instance on Sept. 24 in Greenville, Outagamie County in Wisconsin, where police officers found three trays of absentee ballots and other mail lying in a ditch along the side of a highway. The U.S. Postal Service is investigating.
- An instance in northeastern Pennsylvania where nine ballots were discarded, of which at least seven were known to have been cast for Trump. Local officials at the Luzerne County Board of Elections said on Sept. 25 (pdf) that a “temporary seasonal independent contractor” had “incorrectly discarded [the ballots] into the office trash.” The contractor was reportedly removed from their position.
- An instance in Virginia where at least 1,400 voters received two mail-in ballots.
Trump added, “We won’t know, we might not know for months [the election results] because these ballots are going to be over—take a look at what happened in Manhattan. Take a look at what happened in New Jersey, take a look at what happened in Virginia and other places. They’re not losing 2 percent, 1 percent, which by the way is too much and election could be one or less for that. They’re losing 30 and 40 percent. It’s a fraud. And it’s a shame.”
“Did you see what’s going on, take a look at West Virginia mailman selling the ballots … this is a horrible thing for our country,” Trump added.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has not publicly announced any incidents of ballots sold by mailmen leading up to the 2020 election. However, a case transpired in July regarding a West Virginia mailman who pleaded guilty on July 9 to altering requests for absentee voter ballots for the state’s primary. Officials who investigated the situation found that five ballot requests had been altered from “Democrat” to “Republican.”
Wallace asked whether Trump would “pledge” to “not declare victory until the election has been independently certified.”
“If it’s a fair election, I am 100 percent on board. But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” Trump responded.
“I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it,” the president added.
“As you know, today, there was a big problem in Philadelphia, they went into watch they will call poll watchers—a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out they weren’t allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things,” the president alleged, repeating a claim he made on Twitter earlier in the day.
Biden, when asked the same question by Wallace, replied, “I will accept it, and he will, too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, that’ll be the end of it. And if it’s me, in fact, fine. If it’s not me, I’ll support the outcome.”