President Donald Trump fueled fresh fears about the general election on Wednesday night when he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the November 3 contest.
"We're gonna have to see what happens," Trump said at a press briefing after being asked if he would commit to ensuring a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.
It was not the first time in recent months that Trump has refused to say he would accept the election results—in July, he similarly said on Fox News, "I have to see."
The president on Wednesday also continued his trend of baselessly attacking the security of the election, which is expected to see historic use of mail-in ballots due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Get rid of the ballots," Trump said, "and you'll have a very... there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control... The Democrats know it better than anybody else."
The key part of this sequence is this: "There won't be a transfer, frankly, there will be a continuation."
It's choppy, and a non-sequitur. But it's more than a non-denial. It's a threat. https://t.co/mMhzikO6QF
— Eric Lach (@ericlach) September 23, 2020
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) responded by cataloging various ways in which Trump has tried to sow doubt about the validity of the election. "Encouraging supporters to vote twice. Claiming legal mail-in-voting is 'rigged.' Suing to stop ballots from being counted. Admitting he wants the Supreme Court to give him an unfair advantage. Now this," he tweeted. "Trump doesn't want a fair election, he wants to keep power at any cost."
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, was more succinct, tweeting: "He has been very clear."
Highlighting Trump's comments on the ballots, writer Greg Sargent said that it is "very helpful of Trump to be so clear on his true motive behind trying to disable mail voting."
What we must do now:
Ensure Biden wins in a landslide
Hold Congressional hearings on how local officials plan to handle Election Day processes
State legislatures must allow votes to be counted as they come in
Help Americans understand we may not know results on Nov 3
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 23, 2020
Given that threat—especially in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on Friday, and Trump's vow to fill her empty seat before November 3—advocacy groups such as Stand Up America and Indivisible are encouraging voters to take advantage of early in-person and absentee voting, and emphasizing that because of those practices, the election results may not be known on Election Day.
As Common Dreams reported, advocacy groups marked the eighth annual National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday by urging the public to ensure they are registered to vote in the election and have a plan to do so. Jenny Lawson of Planned Parenthood Votes declared, "If we are to protect Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy, our health, and our rights, we must kick Donald Trump out of office and take back the Senate."