Hopes for a quick and painless 2020 Presidential election have been well and truly stamped on, as we enter a second (and likely a third) day of counting. Joe Biden seems to be clawing ahead in key states—he’s won Wisconsin and Michigan and is tipped to win Pennsylvania and Arizona—much to the fury of an incumbent Donald Trump, who embarrassingly and falsely tried to claim victory yesterday afternoon.
Now, Trump is saying he will “be going to the US Supreme Court” to stop the remaining votes being counted, citing utterly unfounded allegations of voter fraud. It seems all part of a larger, hugely cynical strategy to snag a tight election, one that the Democrats have said they were already prepared for. In a recently-unearthed video of Bernie Sanders on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in October, the Senator for Vermont successfully predicted this strategy, almost to the letter.
“It could well be that at 10 O’clock on Election Night, Trump is winning in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, he’s winning in Wisconsin and he gets on television and he goes, ‘Thank you, Americans, for re-electing me — it’s all over, have a good day,’” Sanders told Fallon. “But then the next day and the day following, all those mail-in ballots start getting counted and it turns out that Biden has won those states, at which Trump says, ‘See? I told you the whole thing was fraudulent. I told you that those mail-in ballots were crooked. So now we’re not going to leave office.’”
Trump’s unverified accusations of voter fraud have already caused armed groups of his supporters to surround voting centres in Michigan and Arizona, chanting “stop the count”. It’s a terrifying indictment of the power Trump wields over his fans, who claim to be protectors of democracy while literally demanding that mail-in votes not be counted, simply because they are more likely to favour Joe Biden.
But are Trump’s plans to drag this election into a protracted legal battle realistic—or even possible? According to experts, it’s unlikely. For one, the Supreme Court is largely an appellate court, meaning it only hears cases that have worked their way through lower courts already. They would only hear an issue regarding the election if they were reviewing an appeal on a case that had already passed through the State and Federal courts, like what happened in the contentious 2000 election. This would take upwards of a month, and could therefore not stop votes from being counted over the next 48 hours—even in the unlikely event that his challenges were upheld.
And if Trump is banking on recreating the controversial Gore v. Bush 2000 drama, he’s unlikely to succeed. That election only required a court-mandated recount because the difference in votes in the deciding state, Florida, was so ludicrously small—literally 537. In the key deciding states where Biden appears to be be ahead, the margins are as high as 10,000-20,000. And if Biden wins in multiple of the remaining states— meaning he’s snagged the election, regardless of whether or not that specific state is recounted—a court is very unlikely to pick the case up.
In short? The options are well and truly running out for Donald. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.