A recent survey reveals some alarming attitudes among Americans regarding the 2020 election. As Election Day draws closer, the race has become increasingly heated. The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has only intensified the campaign and raised the stakes even further.
But the likelihood of a contested election and the rhetoric coming from both sides seem to have cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process. The question is, will this affect future elections, or is 2020 an anomaly?
Majority of Americans Believe Election Will Not Be Fair
A recent Yahoo News/YouGov survey showed that a small percentage of Americans think that the 2020 election will be “free and fair.” The poll, taken Sept. 15-17, revealed that Americans of all political persuasions doubt the integrity of the upcoming election.
The survey noted:
“Half of Trump supporters (50 percent) say the election will not be free and fair; more than a third of Biden supporters (37 percent) agree. Overall, the number of Americans who say the election will not be free and fair (46 percent) is more than twice the number who say the opposite. Another third (32 percent) say they’re not sure what to expect.”
Even worse, a majority of Americans believe that the presidential election could be rigged. When asked: “Election-security experts say a U.S. presidential election cannot be rigged. Do you believe them?” a whopping 57% answered “no.” Additionally, 60% of respondents think that “at least some fraud will occur.”
If the results of the poll are any indication, Americans seem to have lost faith in the electoral process, at least during this season. But are their fears about fairness warranted?
Will the Election Be Rigged?
American opinions on the integrity of the electoral process seem to contradict the experts’ views on the matter. Michael Adams, a law adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, expressed doubts about the possibility of a rigged election. “You’re not going to see widespread fraud in a presidential or a Senate or a governor’s race,” he argued. “It’s just not feasible. And it hasn’t been [feasible] in 70 or 80 years.”
Other experts have echoed Adams’ remarks. Edward Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, told Morning Edition that it is nearly impossible to rig a presidential election. “I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that we’re going to have a rigged election because of the fact that our system is so decentralized,” he explained.
But despite widespread agreement among the experts, the public remains doubtful. While there could be several factors that contribute to this skepticism, it is not difficult to see that politicians and corporate media outlets might deserve the lion’s share of the blame.
Individuals on both sides have pre-emptively accused their opposition of cheating. In fact, it seems inevitable that the nation will experience a contested election in 2020. If Trump loses, the right will likely blame voter fraud related to mail-in ballots. On the other hand, if former Vice President Joe Biden loses, the left will point to voter suppression, specifically of minorities.
These factors, combined with the fact that foreign powers are actively attempting to meddle in the election, could explain why people might not trust the results. Both China and Russia are looking to promote Biden and Trump, respectively.
What About Future Elections?
If and when the 2020 election is contested, it will ignite yet another political conflagration. The losing side’s allegations of cheating will warrant close scrutiny; even if they are proven false, those on the losing side will still cry foul.
This cycle could quickly become the starting point of a pernicious trend when it comes to future elections. Will every presidential race become a vicious debate over the results? What if this paradigm spreads to congressional races? If this happens, the nation could be in for a political crisis during each election season.
Of course, it is essential to point out that if the fiery rhetoric and heated hyperbole subside, America could avoid such a dire situation. But given the record of the country’s politicians and media figures, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Read more from Jeff Charles.