TPE Correspondent

New Delhi November 6th

Three days after Election Day for the US presidential polls, the stalemate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden continues. Incumbent Donald Trump has claimed victory accusing rival Joe Biden’s campaign of “stealing” the election. Donald Trump has already unsuccessfully approached courts in two states and plans to take his fight against Joe Biden to the federal Supreme Court.

Joe Biden has said he is on course of victory and enjoys a healthy lead (253 to 214) among the declared states. His team is ready to fight legal battle with Donald Trump’s battery of lawyers.

WHY QUESTION ELECTION RESULTS

American election experts say the changes in voting procedures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic have given an additional reason to Donald Trump to contest the election results, including the counting of votes itself.

The principal argument among Trump’s Republican supporters is that extending deadlines to receive and count votes has allowed Biden’s campaign to commit fraud. Biden’s Democrat supporters, on the other hand, call it a Republican move to disenfranchise voters — an attempt to rig election.

The counting of votes usually lasts long in the US but based on their internal assessments, candidates in the past have conceded defeat. This time around, neither Trump nor Biden is considering that option right now.

This would not be the first occasion when either of two top candidates refused to concede the election.

Four US presidential elections are particularly remembered for being contentious and saw allegations of fraud. The last one was in 2000, when another Republican Party nominee — George W Bush Junior — was declared the winner of the US presidential election. The other three elections were of 1876, 1888 and 1960.

FLORIDA’S BUTTERFLY BALLOT IN 2000

The US had introduced a punch card ballot system for voting during 1960s. This had encountered technical glitches in the past but in 2000, the US media “discovered” a “butterfly ballot”, a design on the punch card that violated Florida state law.

The problem was encountered in Palm Beach County on Election Day. As it turned out, many of Democrat candidate Al Gore’s supporters thought they voted for him but their votes went to some other candidate or two candidates.

In the end, Al Gore lost Florida to George Bush by 537 votes. Interestingly, a Reform Party candidate named Pat Buchanan got around 3,000 votes of Al Gore supporters due to the “butterfly” punch card ballot.

Florida had 25 electors back then. Al Gore had won 266 and needed just four more to reach the magic figure. But the butterfly ballot got those 25 electors to George Bush, who ended up with 271 votes to become the US president.

There were over 60,000 such ballots in Florida. Al Gore moved the court seeking counting by hand of those votes. The Florida Supreme Court allowed his plea. But then Bush moved the federal Supreme Court, which ruled that the votes could not be counted as the deadline set by the Congress for counting of votes had elapsed.

More than a month after Election Day, Al Gore conceded US presidential election. This remains the most talked about US presidential election dispute.

ANOTHER ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ US PREZ ELECTION

It was the post-Civil War time in the US. The contest in 1876 was between Democrat nominee Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford Hayes. African-Americans faced discrimination and voter intimidation, particularly in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina.

Voter intimidation “ensured” a likely victory of Tilden. It was contested. The Congress set up a 15-member commission, originally headed by a judge who had been a Democrat Senator. He resigned and was replaced by a Republican appointed judge. The new judge tilted the balance in the favour of Hayes.

US ELECTION OF BRIBES

This happened in 1888, when sitting Democratic President Grover Cleveland and Republican Benjamin Harrison were in the contest. Back then, the vote was cast publicly. There was a fairly large number of “floating electors” who were not committed to any party.

They were open to be bribed or lured to vote for a party or candidate. The Republican candidate’s campaign team divided the voters into “blocks of five” to be lured for favourable voting. Harrison won the election. This election was not contested in courts but led to adoption of secret voting in the US presidential polls.

NIXON VERSUS KENNEDY IN 1960

This was possibly the closest ever fight in a US presidential election. Richard Nixon was the incumbent vice-president and was against John F Kennedy of the Democrats.

In popular vote, Kennedy defeated Nixon by less than 0.2 per cent votes. While Nixon did not contest the election in courts, several newspapers carried investigative reports concluding that voting fraud took place in Texas and Illinois giving Kennedy a win