Bernie Sanders is sounding the alarm. The Vermont senator is warning Americans they have to get ready for the possibility that President Donald Trump will refuse to step down if he loses the election in November. In an interview with Politico and later an email to supporters, which he also summarized in a series of tweets, Sanders says there’s real reason for concern. “This is not just idle speculation,” Sanders told Politico. “Trump was saying … ‘the only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.’ Now he is making that statement at a time when virtually every national poll has him behind.” Sanders also pointed to a comment Trump made during a July interview in which he refused to outright say he would accept the results of the election.
Sanders is taking on the issue and plans to speak about it over the next few weeks to raise awareness of what he has characterized as a real possibility. “What we have got to do in the next two months is to alert the American people about what that nightmarish scenario might look like in order to prepare them for that possibility and talk about what we do if that happens,” he said.
In his email to supporters, Sanders said Trump is “using his lies and misinformation to sow confusion and chaos in the election process and undermine American democracy.” Sanders goes on to say that Trump “does not intend to accept the results of the election” if he loses. “This is not just a ‘constitutional crisis.’ This is a threat to everything this country stands for,” Sanders writes. The senator says there are several steps that need to be taken to get ready, including making it clear to people that it could take days or weeks to get the results of the election. In order to avoid long delays, state legislatures need to allow counting of mail-in ballots before Election Day. And Sanders is also calling for congressional hearings about how local officials plan to handle the vote-counting process.
Sanders has received support from key Democrats for his initiative, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.* “I’m standing side-by-side with @SenSanders to make sure we have a plan if President Trump refuses to leave office,” Schumer tweeted.
Correction, Sept. 6, 2020: This post originally misspelled Chuck Schumer’s title.