David N., journalist
WASHINGTON — With one week before election day, Amy Coney Barrett is now a United States Supreme Court Justice. Millions of people will wake up on November 4 in chaos. Why? Trump has been strategizing about election night and grooming his supporters for months.
As election night comes to a close, Trump will show the most votes. Cities skew democratic, and take longer to count because of their increased populations. Mail-in ballots also take longer to count, and since March, when mail-in ballots were introduced as a safe alternative to voting in-person, Trump has discouraged his base from voting absentee on the grounds of potential voter fraud. Trump has also attempted to damage the ability of voters to vote by mail.
Trump has repeatedly said that he will only accept the results of the election as of midnight on November 3rd. Typically, election results aren’t fully reported by midnight. Associated Press and other media institutions make highly informed predictions. If poll workers count mail-in ballots first, then predictions will be skewed towards Joe Biden, and vice versa. Sometimes the predictions don’t even come out on the day–or night–of the election. In 2004, the predictions came out and John Kerry conceded on the Wednesday after election day. This year, New York, Rhode Island, and Alaska won’t report a single mail-in ballot on November 3.
Donald Trump can use the newly stacked Supreme Court to his advantage. The Supreme Court looks at cases that involve multiple states or elected officials because of something called original jurisdiction. In the 2000 presidential election, the Supreme Court halted a recount in Florida. Using original jurisdiction, Trump can elevate his issue with mail-in ballots or his need for the election to be determined by midnight on November 3rd to the Supreme Court, only for it to rule in his favor via the 6-3 conservative majority. Trump and the Republican majority Senate’s rush to appoint ACB added this play to Trump’s playbook.
If Biden wins on November 3, despite the odds, Trump will still have options. He hasn’t committed to anything yet, especially not a peaceful transfer of power.
Either way, the election will be heavily disputed. Political sides are extremely polarized and susceptible to conflict. Trump’s base has demonstrated with guns, killed opposing protestors, and plotted to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Trump’s base is armed and dangerous, and could help him get ahead in the event of post-election civil unrest. It is why he told the Proud Boys, a pro-Trump armed militia, to stand by–not down.
On January 20, 2021, Inauguration Day, the election results will either be unclear or inconclusive. In the unclear scenario, Trump wins at first and then after all mail-in ballots are counted, Biden has the lead. In the inconclusive scenario, polls and reporting shut down at 12:00 AM on November 4 leaving the country without a full picture of the election results.
In both cases, Trump will refuse to leave the White House. Protests and riots will occur, as they have in response to police brutality, the lockdowns put in place as a result of COVID-19, and the recount in Florida after the presidential election in 2000.
If conclusive pro-Biden results appear, the US military could step in. The US military is generally impartial to Trump. However, former Marine Corps General James Mattis published an op-ed earlier this year directly attacking Trump. Other veterans condemn Trump’s comments about veterans and the military. The military may be responsible for removing Trump from office.
Unrest and pandemonium are inevitable. I’ve had conversations about this with my family, and I encourage everyone to make a plan for their own safety and to think about the future of our republic.