The Biden team is preparing for the worst. Here are three possible scenarios.
Awretched presidential campaign has played out at last, but Election Day is not how this story ends. Unable to overtake his opponent in the polls, Donald Trump decided months ago to run against the election itself. That race does not conclude when the ballots are counted. Trump has raged against fictional plots to steal his victory, maligning routine procedures such as voting by mail and counting ballots until there are no more to count. His rage will not diminish if he is defeated.
Our electoral system was not built to withstand a sustained assault on its legitimacy. We are capable of defending it, but that is a collective enterprise. A healthy start would be to recognize that the assault has yet to begin in earnest. Election Day and the period to follow will be moments of maximum temptation for Trump. Can he find a way to interfere with the tabulation of votes? Impound ballots in the mail? Dispatch armed personnel to quell alleged disturbances in Democratic neighborhoods?
The battle for American democracy will not be fully joined until the counting starts. That’s when Trump will tell us that his predictions have come true—that the whole procedure is rife with fraud, that the tally is rigged against him, and that no one can be trusted except Trump himself to tell us who won and who lost. The vital questions are whether and how he will try to use his power to subvert the results.