NEW YORK, Nov 02 (APP): Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that he will not let President Donald Trump ‘steal’ the election following a report that the president will prematurely declare himself the winner on Tuesday night if it appears he is ahead.
“My response is the president is not going to steal this election,” Biden told reporters when asked about Trump’s purported plans, revealed by Axios, a news website, between campaign stops in Pennsylvania on Sunday night, as U.S. political divide becomes increasingly violent, rattling activists and police.
Axios cited three sources who said Trump, who is trailing in polls, has privately discussed in detail potential November 3 election scenarios – including walking up to the podium and declaring he has won before official Electoral College results are revealed.
Trump denied the claims, stating: ‘No, no that was a false report,’ after he landed in North Carolina for his third rally of the day, as both candidates stepped up their respective campaigns.
But he did warn he is ready to send in lawyers to states like Pennsylvania to dispute ballots.
“We’re going in the night of – as soon as the election is over – we’re going in with our lawyers,” he said.
He and the Republican Party have been launching lawsuits in states extending the deadline to accept mail-in ballots.
“If people wanted to get their ballots in, they should have gotten their ballots in long before that,” he said.
The president has repeatedly called for a result to be declared on election night.
“I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait for a long period of time after the election,” Trump said.
Trump and Biden campaigned in Pennsylvania this weekend as early count is likely to favour Trump because of state laws against counting mail-in ballots before Election Day. However, that margin is expected to narrow.
Numerous polls show Biden leading the president in Pennsylvania. The RealClearPolitics average shows Biden leading Trump by 4 points in the state.
Trump won the state by roughly a point in 2016, contributing to what was widely considered a surprise victory.
Meanwhile, as the nation races toward Election Day, the tensions and acrimony surrounding an extraordinarily divisive campaign, coming on the heels of a summer of protests and racial unrest, are adding further uncertainty to an electoral process in which Trump has not committed to a peaceful transfer of power.
On Sunday, vehicles with Trump flags halted traffic in New Jersey and jammed a bridge in a New York suburb. Another pro-Trump convoy in Virginia ended in a tense shouting match elsewhere in the area.
In Georgia, a rally for Democrats was canceled shortly before it was scheduled to begin on Sunday, with organizers worried about what they feared would be a “large militia presence” drawn by President Trump’s own event nearby.
Sunday’s incidents came a day after a group of Trump supporters in Texas, driving trucks and waving Trump flags, surrounded and slowed a Biden campaign, leading to the cancellation of two planned rallies. The F.B.I. confirmed on Sunday that it was investigating the incident.
On his part, President Trump tweeted a video of the incident with a message, “I love Texas!” After the F.B.I. announced it was investigating, he tweeted again, saying, “In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong,” and instead “the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA.”
In Graham, North Carolina, a get-out-the vote rally on Saturday ended with police using pepper spray on some participants, including young children, and making numerous arrests. Organizers of the rally called it flagrant voter suppression.
“These people are afraid,” the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, his eyes still burning, said as he assailed the police action in Graham. “There’s a climate of fear around this.”
And those were just the incidents that were caught on video.
Kristen Clarke executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting rights group, said there had been many more. The group settled a lawsuit last month against officials in Graham who they accused of violating the First Amendment rights of protesters.
“We are very concerned about groups lurking and trying to intimidate voters in particular communities,” Ms. Clarke said. Her group’s election protection hotline received calls from nearly a dozen counties in Florida just over the past week, she said, reporting individuals or groups harassing voters at the polls.
The atmosphere surrounding the country seems like it is preparing to deal with riots, rather than holding election parties.
Businesses and retailers across the country are boarding up their storefront windows and taking other security measures in anticipation of potential unrest on or around Election Day as many cities remain on edge following a summer of widespread riots and mayhem.
In Washington D.C., hair salons, restaurants, clothing stores, and banks just blocks away from the White House were covered in plywood Sunday, as business owners prepare for a possible repeat of the violent riots and looting seen over the summer in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as the decision not to charge officers in connection to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
In an email sent to students last week, George Washington University suggested stockpiling frozen meals, medication and other supplies before November, 3 to prepare “for the Election Day period as you would for a hurricane or a snowstorm that would prevent you from going outside for several days to grab food or order takeout,” according to USA Today.
A representative with the Downtown DC Business Improvement District told the Washingtonian that several prominent businesses plan to close on Election Day or for at least the entire week.
Washington Police Chief Peter Newsham said there were no “credible threats right now of violence,” but said a number of groups had applied for permits to conduct large demonstrations and the entire police department would be working on Election Day.