17:47 GMT29 September 2020
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    A new poll from CBS puts Joe Biden roughly even with President Donald Trump in two southern swing states, suggesting the presidential race may be a competitive one come autumn.

    This result comes as a prosecutor seeking President Trump's tax returns says he is investigating reported "protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organisation". Mr Trump has repeatedly dismissed the probe, calling it a "witch hunt", but it now stands as yet another scandal leading into the 2020 US presidential election.

    International relations expert and professor of International Politics at City University, Inderjeet Parmar, shared his views on the many issues that could hinder the US election come November.

    Sputnik: What are the main issues in the run-up to the 2020 US Election?

    Parmar: Clearly the pandemic is the overriding factor. There's a fear that people won't want to queue for many hours in order to vote because of social distancing rules and anxieties around that. The possibility that any kind of postal ballot system, according to some people, could be open to manipulation or fraud and so on.

    So, President Trump is making a very big thing out of that and I think he may be preparing to challenge the legitimacy of the result, even if he can't delay the election itself.

    Demonstrators are seen taking shelter behind a shield amid a cloud of tear gas during a protest against racial inequality and police violence in Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 27, 2020.
    © REUTERS / CAITLIN OCHS
    Demonstrators are seen taking shelter behind a shield amid a cloud of tear gas during a protest against racial inequality and police violence in Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 27, 2020.

    Sputnik: How prevalent is voter fraud in the US?

    Parmar: That's the interesting thing that it actually is minuscule. Any study which has been carried out by any authority in a university, or by anybody who studies elections and voter systems, has found very little evidence of voter fraud. So it seems to be a sort of strategy, a technique or rhetorical device mainly by Republicans in order to reduce the ability of particularly poor and minorities, young people and students who tend to vote Democratic.

    It seems to be an attempt to try to reduce that level of the turnout of those groups of people by tightening up voter registration rules, which then has an effect on preventing them or making it more difficult for them to register to vote. So actual studies show very little actual voter fraud of the type which is being implied, including by postal ballots.

    Sputnik: How important is the fact Trump is mentioning voter fraud 3 months before an election? Could this cast doubt on the eventual results?

    Parmar: Even in November 2016, after he'd effectively won the presidential election through the electoral college, but he had lost the popular vote by something like 2.9 million votes, he alleged voter fraud then as well. And he has also said that he should be given two additional years in office because of the Mueller inquiries, which had robbed him of his first two years, he claimed. So he's been making comments of the type that he would remain in office longer and there was fraud already.

    So in a way, he's kind of suggesting that the result in November 2020 could be illegitimate, and that would mean that he could refuse to leave the office. He could force a large number of recounts. It could also be that legislators in states which are controlled by the Republican party could refuse to validate the electoral results in those states, which would then further delay and cause a lot more political chaos. And I think it would also be accompanied by a large amount of street mobilisations by Trump supporters who would refuse because they follow his cue.

    Also by those who are opposed and are desperate to see him out of office, it could have very major political repercussions, which I think might make the post-George Floyd protests against police violence look quite minor in comparison.

    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 30, 2020
    © AP Photo / Patrick Semansky
    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 30, 2020

    Sputnik: Joe Biden has yet to announce his pick for vice president. How important will this choice be?

    Parmar: On the one hand, he has a pretty good command right across the US over President Trump so, in that regard, President Trump has damaged his own campaign and Biden had previously reached out to quite different segments of the party, including Sanders, Warren, AOC, and others.

    So I think the pick for a vice-presidential candidate is strategically very important. It will be a signal whether Biden is going to go with somebody from the centre or the right of the Democratic Party, or whether he's going to reach out a bit further to the left. Now, Kamala Harris has come into the frame quite strongly in the last few days as ticking two boxes, minority as well as female.

    But on the other hand, she's pretty much from the kind of law and order right-wing segment of the party that could have an effect of alienating young voters and those voters who are on the left who want much more radical change and feel that Biden is an establishment candidate. If you were to choose somebody from another part of the party, say Elizabeth Warren or someone like that, that could send another message.

    Tags:
    Joe Biden, Donald Trump, US elections, US Election, US Election 2020
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