After an ambiguous answer from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump last month, Fox News TV host Chris Wallace followed up Sunday during an interview with Mr. Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, to ask whether the GOP candidates would accept the outcome of Tuesday’s election. It’s a question that has clung to the Republican ticket like heavy fog for two-and-a-half weeks since Trump said during the third and final presidential debate that he would hold the American public “in suspense” rather than vowing before Election Day to accept the results, whether he wins or loses. That noncommittal response drew harsh criticism from those who said he threatened the very fabric of American democracy. But the reality is that, even if either Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were to fail to concede on election night or at any point thereafter, the electoral process would carry on anyway and place a new president in the White House. The winner is still the winner, whether the loser acknowledges the results or not. “Concession is constitutionally irrelevant,” Jeff Becker, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Pacific, tells The Christian Science Monitor. Even though the political mechanisms will proceed without regard for whether a defeated candidate publicly acknowledges his or her loss, an artful concession remains vitally important to American political futures, Dr. Becker adds.
“Formally, a concession doesn’t matter, but perception matters tremendously in politics, and creating the common ground for people to work together towards legislation is increasingly shrinking. That’s been my concern,” Becker says. “It’s not so much a formal process that’s at stake, it’s people’s willingness to abide by the process.”
… American voters do not elect presidents directly, so although a projected winner is typically announced on Election Day, the vote is not final. Members of the Electoral College cast their votes in December, affirming that a candidate received the 270 needed to win the election, then Congress counts the electoral votes in early January, and the new president is inaugurated Jan. 20.
During the interim, if he is unsatisfied with the outcome, Trump could sue to challenge the process in court. “He could try to litigate,” University of California, Irvine professor Rick Hasen said, as The Guardian reported. “But if he loses by a wide margin he’s not likely to get far in court.”