Republican leaders and election officials from both parties on Sunday sought to combat claims by Donald J. Trump that the election is rigged against him, amid signs that Mr. Trump’s contention is eroding confidence in the vote and setting off talk of rebellion among his supporters. In a vivid illustration of how Mr. Trump is shattering American political norms, the Republican nominee is alleging that a conspiracy is underway between the news media and the Democratic Party to commit vast election fraud. He has offered no evidence to support his claim. “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places — SAD,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday. Mr. Trump made the incendiary assertion hours after his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, tried to play down Mr. Trump’s questioning of the fairness of the election. Mr. Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he and Mr. Trump “will absolutely accept the result of the election.”
Mr. Trump’s words, though, appear to be having an effect on his supporters, and are setting off deep concern among civil rights groups. According to an Associated Press poll last month, only one-third of Republicans said they had a great deal of confidence their votes would be counted fairly. And election officials are worried that Mr. Trump’s continued pressing of the issue could dampen turnout or cause his supporters to deny the legitimacy of the results if he loses. Last week, Mr. Trump called the presidential election “one big fix” and “one big, ugly lie.”
Jon A. Husted, the secretary of state of Ohio, said it was “wrong and engaging in irresponsible rhetoric” for any candidate to question the integrity of elections without evidence. Mr. Husted, a Republican, said he would have no reason to hesitate to certify the results of the election. “We have made it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Mr. Husted said Sunday in an interview. “We are going to run a good, clean election in Ohio, like we always do.”
American elections are, unlike those in many democracies, largely decentralized, rendering the possibility of large-scale fraud extraordinarily unlikely. Further, the balloting in many of the hardest-fought states will be overseen by Republican officials, individuals who would be highly unlikely to consent to helping Mrs. Clinton rig the vote.