Choosing to release us from the three weeks of “suspense” he promoted in the previous night’s debate, Donald Trump on Thursday promised, with characteristic graciousness, to accept the results of the election… if he wins. Rarely has an ellipsis been more consequential. Even at a time when all the constraining norms of American politics appear to be disintegrating before us, the assumption of a peaceful transfer of power — in which the election’s loser concedes to the winner — would have seemed a foregone conclusion. No longer. Of course, if Trump were merely suggesting that he reserves the right to litigate if the election results are uncertain or too close to call, then he was merely stating the obvious. But never before has a candidate sought to keep the nation in “suspense” as to whether he would concede. To do so, by its very nature, casts doubt on the democracy. The reality TV show that this campaign has become could do without yet another dangerous cliffhanger.
One might be tempted to cabin this attempt at delegitimization to the election process itself, focusing on voter fraud and Election Day shenanigans. Treated in isolation, the claims might be limited merely to the prospect of the Walking Dead overrunning polling places, undocumented immigrants coming out of the shadows in order to risk notice and vote or individuals going from polling place to polling place casting votes in the names of other people.
Despite experts’ best efforts, sizable shares of the American population think such activities happen with regularity. Yet the kind of fraud about which Trump has blown his dog whistle (or maybe more accurately, his bullhorn) is incredibly rare. Indeed, even the most seasoned election manipulator will tell you that shepherding voters from one polling place to the next is a terribly inefficient way to “rig” an election — especially a presidential election, in which 130 million votes will be cast.
And given that no one knows which state might be decisive in the Electoral College, a campaign would need to “spread its bets” to achieve the kind of interstate coordination necessary to secretly cast tens of thousands of votes across several jurisdictions.
Full Article: Nathaniel Persily: Why ‘rigging’ resonates – NY Daily News.