Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has called for the creation of a "pnonpartisan commission" to oversee the 3 November election, and accused President Trump of being willing to undermine American democracy to stay in power.
"I strongly second Director Coats' call for this commission," the 79-year-old senator said, speaking at George Washington University in Washington, DC on Thursday, and referring to former Trump Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats' recent proposal for the creation of a Congressionally backed election commission to oversee the poll and ensure that voting and vote-counting laws are "scrupulously" followed.
"Today I call on every elected official in America, whether they be Republican, Democrat or independent to vigorously oppose voter suppression and voter intimidation, to make sure that every vote is counted, and that no one is declared the winner until those votes are counted," Sanders said.
"Today under Donald Trump, we have a President who has little respect for our Constitution or the rule of law. Today that peaceful transition of power - the bedrock of American democracy, is being threatened like never before," the senator suggested.
Citing remarks by former President Ronald Reagan during his 1981 inauguration speech on the "miracle" of American democracy, Sanders urged Americans of all political stripes to join together to protect the orderly transfer of power.
"Let us consider the following scenario - a scenario which I hope very much never takes place: on election night Trump is ahead in many battleground states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day. All across the television screens people see Trump ahead before they turn in for the night. But as more and more mail-in ballots are counted, Trump's lead falls. Trump then announces with no proof that there has been massive mail-in ballot fraud and that these votes should not be counted and that he has won the election. In other words Trump may well announce that he has won the election before all of the votes are counted, and that large numbers of mail-in ballots are discarded," Sanders said.
Solution? Counting Votes Ahead of Time and Internet Censorship
According to the politican, mass turnout, a landslide victory for Biden and the counting of mail-in votes before election day would be the best way to ensure that democratic norms are taken into consideration.
Sanders urged the news media to "prepare the American people to understand" that "there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we may not know the results on 3 November." He also called on social media companies to "get their act together" and to crack down on alleged "disinformation" and the harassment of election officials online (ie, to engage in censorship).
Trump Ramps Up Criticism of Mail-in Ballots
Sanders' comments follow remarks by President Trump on Wednesday that he could not guarantee a peaceful transition of power based on the "disaster" caused by postal ballots, which he suggested were "out of control."
"You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster... Get rid of the ballots and we'll have a very peaceful - there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else," Trump said, speaking to reporters in the White House.
Trump stepped up his attacks of mass postal-voting initiatives earlier this year, suggesting they are a breeding ground for fraud. Trump's opponents have accused him of bringing up the ballot issue to enable him to challenge the results should he lose on 3 November.
Democrats have broadly dismissed Trump's concerns. However, recent analyses by both conservative and liberal media and think-tanks have shown that postal ballots can be used by unscrupulous people to engage in fraud, since they are easier to steal, forge or alter, and are not as actively supervised by election officials.
Earlier this month, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer backed a Sanders plan for a "nightmarish scenario" in which Trump refuses to concede defeat and steals the 3 November election, thus "forcing" the Democrats to institute a regime change plan to kick him out of office.