A 2020 Contested Election May Set Unwelcome Precedent

Pavle Ristic, Sports Editor

   On November 3, one of the most dramatic elections ever will come to an end — or so we hope. Throughout history, there have been many “contested elections,” wherein the losing candidate contests the validity of the winner. Most famously occurring in the 2000 election featuring Al Gore and George W. Bush, the contested election has taken many forms throughout the years.

   For those of who weren’t following politics at the turn of the millennium, this is an abridged history lesson: It was Gore and Bush, and after a nail biting election day it all came down to Florida. At first, TV networks nationwide called it for Gore, then they didn’t, then again for Gore just for it to be rescinded soon after. After three weeks and numerous recounts, and all kinds of discussion and debate, the decision was handed to the Supreme Court. The highest court in the land decided that Bush had won his second term (history.com).

   According to New York Magazine, there is one more, lesser known, contested election in the history of the United States and it was the election of 1876. The race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden took a year to be decided due to the lack of protocol surrounding contested elections. They disputed which states’ electoral college electors were valid and which were not. Eventually, after multiple committees were formed and again after much discussion, the choice was passed onto the Supreme Court which ended up ruling in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes (nymag.com).

   Now, the question is: why is all this political history important? According to Vox, President Trump has stated openly that he will not leave office without a fight (vox.com). It seems that President Trump is setting up a scenario where he could contest the election and win a second term without having to win the electoral college. There are two main things which the President is currently doing in order to make this a reality: first, he is tearing up the mail-in ballot system from the inside. According to National Public Radio, Trump has spoken out about how the mail-in system cannot be trusted and will not yield honest results (npr.org). Second, he is working to have a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. The majority in the Supreme Court put in place by President Trump could potentially rule in his favor if the contested election comes to them.

   These events have some Americans on edge. Junior Brenden Kennedy said, “The whole situation makes me nervous. If President Trump is able to manipulate the government to his will like this, what will happen with presidents in the future?” If Trump is able to succeed in getting a second term through a contested election, it may set an unwelcome precedent, or a continuation of uncertain elections. When a teacher lets one student eat in class, soon everyone will be eating in class, the same thing will happen with the presidency as people try to accomplish political gymnastics to get what they want.

   Although some are feeling doubtful and afraid, history has proven that democracy will continue, even in the face of contested elections. As a nation, we should be able to set our course back straight — where it belongs.