Trump Once Again Planning to Overturn an ElectionTrump Once Again Planning to Overturn an Election


That plan is to overturn the results of the November election, and for both parties it is fast becoming a major concern. The scheme is being hatched by Republicans on behalf of Donald Trump, who seeks to steal the election if Joe Biden defeats him again. The Biden campaign and an army of lawyers are working to thwart it.

Trump can win on November 5, and polls show he likely would if the election were held today. But if Biden defeats him, the man who would trample the country for his ego can be expected to use even more extreme means than he did last time to flip the result—because he’s trying to stay out of jail.

Trump will declare victory on election night before all the votes are counted, as he did in 2020—and as we know he had planned before election night.

What happens next, depending on how many complicit Republicans aid Trump and his lieutenants in battleground states, could take the nation to dangerous new territory.

Should Biden prevail, Trump will claim the results were tainted—by mail-in voting, machine voting, machine counting, ballot harvesting, corrupt election officials, liberal cities, and illegal immigrants.

The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee have been working on an upgraded version of plans they made before November 2020. In anticipation of every nightmarish contingency, squadrons of lawyers are already drawing up the necessary legal filings to avert what they expect will be an all-out assault on the election.

Trump won’t be president this time, and lacks the power of the federal government, so his best path to stealing an election is through the states, before the question comes to Congress on January 6, 2025.

In their new book, How to Steal a Presidential Election, Lawrence Lessig and Matthew Seligman describe a troubling scenario. A 2020 Supreme Court decision in a “faithless electors” case (Chiafolo v. Washington) held that state legislatures have the power to direct electors how to cast their votes. That ruling, Lessig and Seligman argue, could be interpreted by Republican state legislatures as allowing them to pass a law directing electors to vote for the candidate the legislature chooses, rather than based on the popular vote in the state.

“There are plenty of mechanisms to ensure that the election selects the right slate of electors—recounts, contest proceedings and so on,” they write. “But there are no protections against a state legislature simply ordering whichever electors are appointed to vote for the candidate that the legislature, and not the people of the state, choose.”

In an interview with The Bulwark, Lessig said that an unintended consequence of the Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA) enacted in 2022 was to shrink the window in which an attempted election subversion could be blocked. Under the new law, no errors in the electoral vote can be corrected after electors vote on December 17, 2024. If corrupt electors vote for someone other than their states’ popular vote winner, Congress will certify that result on January 6, 2025.

Republican-controlled legislatures in several key swing states—Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin—could throw the election. “If they wanted to do it in the safest way possible, meaning in a way to guarantee that they were to succeed,” Lessig said, “they would do it immediately after the election, because the time frame for the Court to intervene would be so short, it’s not clear the Court would have time to intervene.”

Lessig and Seligman laid out ways to resolve this months ago. One option is that Congress could pass a law declaring that any change a state legislature makes to its results after the popular vote would render the electoral votes not “regularly given,” which under the ECRA would open them to congressional challenge. Another option: States could affirm that electors are required to carry out the will of the voters. Or a legislature could pass a new law before the election granting itself authority to direct electors to vote for the legislature’s choice regardless of the popular vote—so there would be time for the Supreme Court to strike down that bill (assuming it would).


Election deniers are already preparing to start the steal. When I asked Lessig what was his worry level—about what Trump would try—on a scale from 1 to 10, he said “If it’s close, then I’m at 10. To him, it’s existential. . . . There’s no reason he would hesitate at all to do whatever he can.”

Since the 2020 election, local GOP officials in eight states have refused to certify election results at least fifteen times, according to Rolling Stone. In 2020, Trump called members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan to urge them not to certify their results and told them, “We’ve got to fight for our country.” Not a lot of GOP officials will be waiting for a call from Trump this year. And those who may balk will likely have their lives threatened.

In the lead-up to the election, the Republican National Committee is promising an aggressive “election integrity” program. Lara Trump, tapped by her father-in-law to co-chair the RNC, has pledged “massive resources” for “trained poll watchers, poll observers, poll workers, people in tabulation centers all across this country,” as she told Sean Hannity on Fox News last month.

The RNC is staffing up with Big Liars, like Christina Bobb as senior counsel for “election integrity,” and has adopted a new litmus test: Prospective RNC employees are reportedly being asked if the 2020 election was stolen. Trump is also engaging Cleta Mitchell, who participated in the 2020 coup effort, and was on the infamous call when he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes for him to overcome Biden’s tally in the Peach State.

Mitchell, among others, is working on a Trump-directed effort to convince states to quit the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which helps identify unregistered voters and registration irregularities. Conspiracy theories on the right have proliferated regarding ERIC, and as some Republican states have dropped it, the potential for problems has grown, according to election experts interviewed by Rolling Stone. The new software Trump allies are using instead relies on “totally unreliable” data, which could lead to more challenges to the votes of registered and eligible voters, overwhelming election officials, creating delays, and giving candidates who lost “more time and more space to create false narratives about an election being stolen,” according to David Becker, one of ERIC’s founders.


Delay delay delay is the Trump strategy if Biden wins in November—delay verifying ballots, delay with recounts, delay with audits. Delay sows doubt. Piling up lawsuits does too, even if they are later thrown out.

The RNC has filed lawsuits in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and even Mississippi. Kari Lake filed a case with the Supreme Court claiming electronic voting machines in Maricopa County are “susceptible to hacking.” She wants the Court to outlaw electronic voting. No matter the outcome of the case, Lake will, no doubt, blame these machines should she—or Trump—lose their elections in Arizona.

Layered over this volatile scenario is the threat of violence, whether Trump explicitly encourages it at the time or not. His torrent of lies and the cowardice of elected Republicans who knowingly echo his lies have created a permanent threat to election workers. Trump supporters are primed for battle—metaphoric and physical. A spokeswoman for Trump recently claimed that the party will be sending “soldiers” to monitor voting.

Last week, Judge Michael Luttig remarked about the unprecedented threat Trump presents to our judiciary and to democracy, following Trump’s attacks on the daughter of the judge who will preside over his hush money case. “Never in history has any person leveled such attacks and been met with such passivity, acquiescence, and submissiveness by the nation,” Luttig wrote. The same can be said for the nation’s collective reaction to Trump’s plans to steal the 2024 election. Rich Lowry wrote last month in a National Review column titled “How Exactly Would Donald Trump End American Democracy?” that “we can stipulate that if Trump loses in November he won’t concede the election and, in all likelihood, will engage in the same kind of pressure campaign to change the results as he did in 2020.”

What Trump has planned for November and December, if he doesn’t win, is not a “pressure campaign.” It’s another coup.

Trump’s plan to potentially steal a free and fair election should itself be a central issue of the 2024 campaign. It’s far more consequential than polls, fundraising tallies, or the electoral salience of student loan payments or a TikTok ban.

Trump intends to light the country on fire with his lies—again. We can’t stop it if we don’t talk about it.


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