On Dec. 13, 2000, after perhaps the most hotly contested presidential election in American history (and a Supreme Court decision that divided Americans), Al Gore did one of the most important things that keeps American democracy working: he conceded. “Let there be no doubt: While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it,” he said in a seven-minute statement. He added, “And tonight for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.” No one expected a recount process that would drag out until December. But this year, before the ballots are even cast — much less counted — Donald Trump is signaling that he is ready to challenge the presidential election results. “I’m telling you, Nov. 8, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged,” Trump told Fox News earlier this week. “And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.” His former adviser and longtime associate Roger Stone elaborated later in the week that the campaign should encourage supporters to challenge any unfavorable results. “I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath,” he said. “The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it.”
… Cries about the validity of an election are usually heard more often in third-world countries, places with authoritarian regimes lacking established democracies and fair checks and balances. They’re the kinds of places the U.S. and United Nations might send election monitors. For the voting process to be called into question, experts say, it is a threat to American democracy itself.
“I think it’s a dangerous game because our democracy depends upon losers having confidence that the election was fairly run,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at University of California-Irvine. “That’s really what separates democracies from other places: Losers accept being on the short end of an election result. So I do think that there is reason to be concerned.”