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The end of American democracy as we know it - if Donald Trump Wins Election

by Donovan Slack, Kevin McCoy, Dennis Wagner, Kevin Johnson, Kristine Phillips - USA TODAY | Story Source    Saturday November 14, 2020 - 1:20 AM
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* US Presidential Election *
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The end of American democracy as we know it - if Donald Trump Wins Election
The legal barrage by President Donald Trump's campaign against election results in battleground states is highly unlikely to succeed. But it still has the potential to test American democracy as Trump tries to cling to power despite losing the election.

Lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona — all states that voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden — ask judges to prevent those states from certifying their results. That has raised questions about whether the Trump campaign is trying to subvert the popular votes in those states.

Even if that were the goal — and some legal experts and observers question whether it is — everyone who spoke with USA TODAY said it would almost certainly fail.

The Trump campaign would have to convince judges there were serious, widespread problems with voting. So far that hasn't happened.

There would have to be evidence showing enough votes are in question to turn those states to Trump. But Biden's lead in key states far surpasses the number of votes that have been called into question.

And state lawmakers would have to decide to act to override the popular votes. That's unlikely and, some say, possibly illegal.

Trump is contesting the election in several swing states. Here's how their electoral votes work

But these are unusual times.

The harm in letting these lawsuits play out is that "it's not impossible that they will succeed," said Chris Edelson, a government professor at American University, lawyer and fellow at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies.

"I just think everybody is freaking out because the Constitution and federal statutes have all these bizarre provisions" dealing with disputes over electoral votes, said Rick Hasen, an election law expert from the University of California-Irvine.

If judges allow Republican legislatures to overturn a vote of the people, Hasen said, "it would provoke massive social unrest. ... I think it would be the end of American democracy as we know it."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told USA TODAY that state authorities are preparing for such a worst-case scenario: A bid to push the Republican-controlled state legislature to appoint a slate of Trump electors to ...

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