Political Science’s Dr. Chris Gilbert weighs in on presidential election results

As of Nov. 7, a concise presidential election outcome has been reached: a win for Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden. With 279 electoral votes for Joe Biden and 217 electoral votes for Donald Trump, President Trump no longer has any possible pathway to win re-election. However, President Trump cites voter fraud for his loss and continues to push for prosecution in court to ensure election laws were fully upheld, according to NPR.
According to election reports from MSNBC, Pennsylvania was the tipping point for Biden’s win, gaining him twenty electoral votes. Other key battleground states, such as Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin all voted in favor of presidential candidate Joe Biden. Needing 270 electoral votes for a presidential candidate to secure an election victory, Biden’s 279 electoral votes surpasses the threshold. It is presumed that President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021.
As for Trump’s claims of voter fraud, Gustavus Political Science Professor Dr. Chris Gilbert, weighs in on the significance of these allegations.
“It is very significant that one candidate would challenge the legitimacy of his opponent’s victory, let alone deny that the other candidate even won at all. This has not happened quite this way ever in U.S. presidential election history. It’s also very significant that so far, there is no substance to the allegations of voter fraud–this is an argument entirely lacking in evidence to support it,” Gilbert said.
Although Trump’s allegations of voter fraud hold little momentum legally, the topic continues to circulate on social media platforms.
“So far there is zero evidence of any systematic fraud in any state that has a close outcome. In general, instances of actual voter fraud remain very rare in the United States, and this election is revealing that this is still true. Making fraud accusations probably helps lessen the sting of losing
the presidential election, so this could be seen as a way of keeping core Republican voters motivated,” Gilbert said.
In order for a recount to take place on a state level, there needs to be sufficient evidence of violation of federal laws. Following this factual finding of fraud, a recount is possible but, even then, it is unlikely. A process for recount on the national level does not exist. Georgia has been the only state to agree to and start a full recounting process.
In order to force a recount in one or more states, Trump administration lawyers would have to show that state election procedures either violated federal laws, their own state laws or both; and would have to show that such violations would rule out enough ballots cast to render the outcome in doubt, at which point the state or states involved would have to recount, subject to the deadlines [of Dec.14]. There is no such thing as a national recount and none has ever occurred, since the election results depend on state-level popular votes,” Gilbert said.
The delegates of the Electoral College historically cast their votes on the Monday following the second Wednesday of Dec., which this year is Dec. 14. Following those official results, the election is non-negotiable. In terms of these claims of systematic voter fraud, or a President’s alleged unwillingness to embrace a peaceful transfer of power by election, this has never happened before in US history.
“President Trump hinted at this before the election by charging that his election night victory would be “overturned” by ballots counted later–but it has simply never been the case that states could, or do, count all their ballots on election night. So there is no election night winner to “overturn” to begin with. The timing here is significant: under federal law, Electoral College electors meet and cast their votes this year on Dec. 14. Bottom line: yes there is time, but barely, in my estimation, for legal challenges to be filed and resolved, leading to some state recounts, and still meet the Dec. 14 deadline, ” Gilbert said.
Due to the lack of factual evidence to back up Trump’s allegations of voter fraud, according to news sources such as CNN and the New York Times, these kinds of accusations may have negative effects on US politics and even further strengthen the importance of seeking out credible sources.
“Overall, the resistance on the part of President Trump and some, not all, of his allies to the fact that Joe Biden won this election is a bad, bad, bad situation for U.S. politics. First and foremost, their narrative is false, and we shouldn’t encourage false narratives,” Gilbert said.
For more information about election results, updates on President Trump’s lawsuit filings, or the current state of US politics in general visit AP.org, the Voter Engagement Team webpage on Gustavus.edu or the Minnesota Secretary of State webpage at election results.sos.state.mn.us.

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