As Donald Trump’s campaign falters, his warnings that the presidential contest will be rigged have become a focus of his pitch to voters. Historians say Trump’s sustained effort to call the process into question has no close parallel in past elections. And some are increasingly worried that his claims — for which he’s offered no real evidence — could leave many of his supporters unwilling to accept the election results, potentially triggering violence and dangerously undermining faith in American democracy. Day after day — at rallies, in interviews and on Twitter — Trump and several top backers have hammered the message that a victory for Hillary Clinton would be illegitimate. Trump has frequently suggested that widespread voter fraud will swing the election, and he has urged his supporters to closely monitor the voting process. In a tweet Monday, he declared that there’s “large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” In fact, numerous studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is vanishingly rare.
In August, Trump told a Pennsylvania crowd that the “only way” he could lose the state is “if cheating goes on.” Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, echoed those claims Monday in Ohio, declaring: “Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation.”
Trump is hardly the first prominent Republican to issue dire warnings about voter fraud. In 2008, Sen. John McCain of Arizona alleged in a presidential debate that the voter registration group ACORN was “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
… “One of the things we take for granted is that, even in tumultuous times when elections are hard fought, the losers concede the election and embrace the process, even if things did not go well,” the election law scholar Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California-Irvine, wroteafter Trump’s “we’re going to have to see” comments. “Donald Trump threatens this peace,” Hasen wrote.