President Trump won’t commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said at a news conference, responding to a question about whether he’d commit to a peaceful transfer of power. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Trump has been pressing a monthslong campaign against mail-in voting this November by tweeting and speaking out critically about the practice. More states are encouraging mail-in voting to keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The president, who uses mail-in voting himself, has tried to distinguish between states that automatically send mail ballots to all registered voters and those, like Florida, that send them only to voters who request a mail ballot.

Trump has baselessly claimed widespread mail voting will lead to massive fraud. The five states that routinely send mail ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.

Trump on Wednesday appeared to suggest that if states got “rid of” the unsolicited mailing of ballots there would be no concern about fraud or peaceful transfers of power.

“You’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer frankly,” Trump said. “There’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control, you know it, and you know, who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

It’s unlikely that any chaos in states with universal mail-in voting will cause the election result to be inaccurately tabulated, as Trump has suggested.

The five states that already have such balloting have had time to ramp up their systems, while four states newly adopting it — California, New Jersey, Nevada and Vermont — have not. Washington, D.C., is also newly adopting it.

Of those nine states, only Nevada is a battleground, worth six electoral votes and likely to be pivotal only in a national presidential deadlock.

California, New Jersey, Vermont and D.C. are overwhelmingly Democratic and likely to be won by that party’s nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

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