Trump suggests 2020 election result can never be accurate

US president continues his attacks on the reliability of postal voting in this year’s race

 Democratic vice-presidential nominee   Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) campaigning  in the West Oak Lane suburb of Philadelphia, in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Photograph :  Mark Makela/Getty Images

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) campaigning in the West Oak Lane suburb of Philadelphia, in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Photograph : Mark Makela/Getty Images

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US president Donald Trump escalated his attacks on postal voting on Thursday, saying the result of the 2020 presidential race could never be accurately determined – a sentiment that would undermine any winner, including him.

Mr Trump, who is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in opinion polls, has repeatedly made unsubstantiated allegations that voting by mail is vulnerable to fraud.

States are using mail-in voting on a much wider scale than usual this November, to provide an alternative to in-person balloting during the coronavirus pandemic. Election experts who have studied decades of US elections say fraud is rare.

“Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to ‘voters,’ or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want. Another election disaster yesterday. Stop Ballot Madness!” Mr Trump said in a Twitter post.

Twitter flagged two Trump tweets on mail-in voting on Thursday with a tag reading “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure”, which linked to experts and data supporting the stance that voter fraud is extremely rare.

Sixteen states require an excuse to vote absentee, such as illness or travel. The other 34 states allow any registered voter to request a mail ballot. Mr Trump has claimed, without evidence, that the latter system is prone to fraud, although Americans have long voted by mail.

One in four ballots in 2016 were cast by mail.

The November 3rd election promises to be the US’s largest test so far of voting by mail, and the two major parties are locked in numerous lawsuits that will shape how millions of Americans exercise their right to vote.

The Biden campaign responded with a statement it put out after an attack by Mr Trump on postal voting in July.

“The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House, ” spokesman Andrew Bates said.

Democratic voters are embracing mail-in ballots at rates well ahead of their Republican counterparts, according to data from recent state and local elections.

The trend has alarmed Republicans, more than two dozen Republican officials from six politically competitive states claimed last month. They worry Democrats will bank significantly more postal votes by November, a deficit that may be tough to overcome if the pandemic depresses turnout on election day.

Not accurate

On Thursday, Republican Marco Rubio, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said of Mr Trump’s claim, “It’s just not accurate”.

In a separate development,FBI director Christopher Wray warned that Russia was interfering in the November election with a steady stream of misinformation aimed at Mr Biden as well as sapping Americans’ confidence in the election process.

Moscow is also attempting to undercut what it sees as an anti-Russian US establishment, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the Democratic-led House of Representatives’ homeland security committee.

He said his biggest concern was a “steady drumbeat of misinformation” that he feared could undermine confidence in the result of the election.

Mr Wray’s testimony follows a warning on August 7th by the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center that Russia, China and Iran were all trying to interfere in the election.

Multiple reviews by US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia acted to boost Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign and undermine his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The Republican president has long bristled at that finding, which Russia denies.

Mr Wray said the FBI was so active in monitoring Chinese efforts to acquire US technology and other sensitive information that it was opening a new counterintelligence investigation related to China “every 10 hours”.

He said the FBI was conducting multiple investigations into violent domestic extremists following months of street protests against racism and police brutality. He said the largest “chunk” of investigations were into white supremacist groups. – Reuters

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