That means the pandemic that many feared would wreck the election has paradoxically made the system stronger. “All of that uncertainty resulted in tremendous scrutiny and transparency, and most importantly, public education about all of these administrative processes,” says Eddie Perez, an elections expert at the Open Source Election Technology Institute.
The calls from the president and his allies to stop vote counts can still undermine confidence in the outcome. But so far, few of Trump’s arguments have carried any weight in court. Judges denied or threw out lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan on Thursday. Even calls for recounts look unconvincing right now. Historically, recounts matter when races are within just a few hundred votes in a single state, as in the 2000 election. Right now, all of the half-dozen contested states have margins much bigger than that.
And while the president’s family and allies have been attacking fellow Republicans for not sufficiently supporting his efforts, several prominent party members have publicly rebuked him for his impatience, including Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. “All things considered, I think that the media and the public are doing a better than average job at remaining patient and resisting inflammatory rhetoric,” says Perez.
“This election is going remarkably well considering the obstacles election officials have faced all year long,” says Mark Lindeman, co-director of the election integrity organization Verified Voting. “Election officials in many states have had to field two entirely new election systems: massive-scale mail ballots where they have handled only a handful in the past, and also reengineering in-person voting to accommodate social distancing. There’s a chaos narrative, but what I see is not chaos. What I see is people working very hard to finish a difficult job.”
On Thursday evening, Trump gave a rambling news conference in which he repeated his many unsubstantiated claims about fraud. Most of the news networks cut away after a minute or two. Even Fox News’s anchors said afterwards that they “hadn’t seen the evidence” for Trump’s claims. The president seemed, they said, to be readying for Biden to be declared the winner–but then to start mounting legal challenges. The counting may be over soon, but the election is far from finished.
This is an excerpt from The Outcome, our daily email on election integrity and security. Click here to get regular updates straight to your inbox.