17:14 GMT23 November 2020
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    2020 United States presidential election
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    The US election campaign, which has been held in the shadow of a pandemic which has claimed the lives of 231,000 people, is now over. Voters are going to the polls but what will happen if Donald Trump is defeated?

    Voting is under way in the 2020 US presidential elections with the most recent opinion polls showing the Democrat challenger Joe Biden ahead of the incumbent in many crucial swing states.

    The opinion pollsters got it wrong in 2016 but if Biden does achieve the victory that Hillary Clinton was unable to, will Donald Trump cry foul?

    ​The victor needs to clinch 270 electoral college votes in order to secure the White House and Trump is playing catch-up in crucial battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    Trump, who is due to spend Tuesday at his campaign headquarters in Virginia, has flouted COVID-19 guidelines by inviting hundreds of supporters to an election night party in the East Room of the White House.

    ​Analysts predict 40 percent of votes will be sent in by post, rather than in person, and the Trump campaign has claimed mail-in voting will produce an election which will be the "most inaccurate and fraudulent in history."

    A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found 47 percent of Biden supporters plan to vote by mail, compared with just 11 percent of Trump voters.

    ​He said the true result will only become clear when all the mail-in votes have been counted, which could be as late as Sunday 8 November.

    But we may not get that far.

    Trump has threatened legal action to block the counting of ballots received after Election Day.

    Pennsylvania has said it may take several days to count its ballots but Trump has told his supporters “cheating can happen like you have never seen.''

    ​Trump said "we're going in with our lawyers'' as soon as the polls close.

    Throughout the campaign Trump has hinted that he would reject defeat and there are fears white supremacist and other groups might come onto the streets to protest if the result is close and in any way controversial, like the infamous 2000 election when Al Gore lost narrowly to George W. Bush.

    Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist in South Carolina, told Sputnik: "I was working on the Bush campaign in Florida in 2000 and we don't want to go down that road again. We are a lot more divided than we were 20 years ago. I shudder to think what would happen."
    Mr Felkel, who is not a supporter of President Trump, said: "If it's very clear he has lost hopefully there will be some maturity not to put the country through a tumultuous fight."

    On Twitter on Monday, 2 November, the President warned about "violence in the street" after the US Supreme Court voted to grant an extension to vote counting in Pennsylvania.

    ​Last month, during the only face-to-face presidential debate, Trump told the right-wing Proud Boys: "Stand back and stand by."

    Businesses in several cities, including New York, Denver and Minneapolis, have boarded up their premises amid fears of unrest on the scale of what happened earlier in the year when Black Lives Matter campaigners and Antifa activists clashed with US nationalists.

    ​The fear is that if the election result hinges on one state, like in 2000, and a constitutional crisis ensues Trump supporters and opponents could end up clashing violently on the streets of cities like Minneapolis, Charlottesville and Portland, Oregon.

    Last month a study claimed there was a growing risk of election-related militia violence in Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    The United States is arguably more polarised politically than it has been since the Civil War in the 19th century and there are fears that a violent incident amid political turmoil could light the tinderbox.

    Mr Felkel said: "I don't think there's much doubt that Biden will win the popular vote but we have this sneaky thing called the electoral college."
    He concluded: "If Biden has a big enough margin and the 20 electoral college votes (from Pennsylvania) don't matter then it's a moot point. But if it comes down to those 20 votes I think they will do the math and try to keep hold of the office."

     

    Tags:
    Antifa, Proud Boys, US Election 2020, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, US
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