Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He "hereby claimed" victories in states he hasn't won.

With votes still being counted in five potentially decisive states, the winner of the election isn't clear—except to Donald Trump, at least if you believe his tweets. While he made no public appearances today, he kept up an active and aggrieved presence on social media. The general tenor of Trump's messages was that he had won the election, and that only fraud and unspecified nefarious actions by unnamed criminals was keeping everyone from seeing it.

This tweet, which was promptly savaged by the internet (and hidden by Twitter for spreading election misinformation), is representative:

For the record, Pennsylvania (like all states) permits the parties to observe the count. The Republican observers of the Pennsylvania counting process can be seen on the live stream of the Philadelphia count. It's not clear what "secretly dumped ballots" Trump is thinking of, although he's invented stories about mysteriously appearing and disappearing ballots before.

This isn't Trump's first attempt to make the word "hereby" sound official: last August, he "hereby ordered" American businesses to immediately stop doing business in China. (They didn't.)

Trump's defiance has inspired small crowds of his supporters to gather outside of locations where votes are being counted in Arizona and Michigan, chanting "stop the vote" or "stop the count." Trump is losing in both of those states at the moment, so stopping the count isn't a great strategy. Trump's legal team is slightly more clear-headed: they are trying to force an end to vote counting where Trump is leading at the moment, but not where he is losing.

So what?

  • In a democracy, all legally cast ballots are counted, regardless of whether it would help or hurt any candidate.