Trump Says He Won’t Declare Early Victory, Signals Election Legal Challenges

November 2, 2020 Updated: November 2, 2020

President Donald Trump says he won’t declare victory in the 2020 election if it appears he’s ahead late on Nov. 3, although he signaled that he and his lawyers will be prepared to file legal challenges if there are signs of fraud.

A report published over the weekend, citing three anonymous sources, claimed Trump plans to declare victory on election night if he appears to be ahead.

“That was a false report. We’ll look at what happened,” Trump told reporters on Nov. 1 in Charlotte.

“I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over because it can only lead to one thing, and that’s very bad. You know what that thing is. I think it’s a very dangerous, terrible thing. And I think it’s terrible when we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election in a modern-day age of computers.”

Jason Miller, a Trump campaign adviser, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Nov. 1 that “if you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electorals.”

“We believe that we’ll be over 290 electoral votes on election night. So no matter what they try to do, what kind of hijinks or lawsuits or whatever kind of nonsense they try to pull off, we’re still going to have enough electoral votes to get President Trump reelected,” he said.

Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “we feel confident about where we are.”

“The thing keeping me up is the same thing keeping people up on both sides, I’m sure, which is, how do we get out the vote? How do we make sure that we get out every single vote we can between now and when the polls close? And then how do we make sure all the votes get counted and a winner gets called?” she said.

“So, at this point in the campaign, Jake, it’s all up to those amazing people who are the field staff, and who are out there making sure people can vote, and to our lawyers and our poll watchers to make sure there are no impediments.”

The Biden campaign believes the winner will be known at some point on Nov. 4.

Epoch Times Photo
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia, on Nov. 1, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Trump decried recent rulings by the Supreme Court that allow votes postmarked by or on Election Day to be counted in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, provided they arrive by nine and three days, respectively, to election officials.

The nation’s highest court also upheld a Nov. 3 deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots in Wisconsin.

“I happen to think it was a terrible decision for our country made by the Supreme Court. I think it was a terrible decision for our country. And I think it’s a very dangerous decision because you’re going to have one or two or three states, depending on how it ends up, where they’re tabulating ballots, and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. And I think there’s great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse could take place,” he said.

Pennsylvania’s top election official said Nov. 1 that it could take days to figure out whether Trump or challenger Joe Biden wins the swing state.

North Carolina’s Board of Elections announced Nov. 1 that at least 97 percent of ballots cast in the state should be counted by the end of election night. Unofficial results will be posted as soon as they become available after polls close.

“Please remember that all results reported on election night are unofficial. We will post results as quickly as possible, but our primary objective will be accuracy more than speed,” Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the board, said in a statement. “State and county elections officials take many steps after every election to ensure all eligible votes are counted and the results are audited and accurate.”

Initial results are required by law to be tallied in Wisconsin by 4 p.m. on No. 5. Unofficial results will be posted on election night, Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told WHBY.

Because of the labor required to double-check the tallies, “we never know the official results of an election until that three-step certification process happens,” Wolfe said. The state-level certification doesn’t happen until Dec. 1.

Trump told reporters that his campaign lawyers will go in “as soon as that election is over.”

“But we don’t want to have Pennsylvania, where you have a political governor—a very partisan guy—and we don’t want to have other states—like Nevada, where you have the head of the Democratic clubhouse as your governor. We don’t want to be in a position where he’s allowed to, every day, watch ballots come in. ‘Gee, if we could only find 10,000 more ballots,'” he said.

Bob Bauer, a Biden adviser, told Axios that Biden’s campaign will match Trump’s.

“We’re going to match them, I assure you, and exceed them in quality and vigor. And we will protect the vote,” Bauer said.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber