It’s been three months since the presidential election in the United States. Meanwhile, the country’s intelligence agencies said in a report on Friday that foreigners were trying to influence the election.
The report says Russia wants to ensure Donald Trump’s victory by interfering in the election and is campaigning against him to humiliate potential Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Intelligence agencies believe that China wants Biden to win, but China has not yet taken any aggressive steps. There have been multiple investigations into allegations that Russia campaigned for and influenced Trump in the 2016 election. While no direct involvement has been found with Trump’s campaign, it has been proven that Russia influenced the election and that social media is widely used.
The election campaign has not yet intensified due to the spread of the coronavirus and the massive deterioration of the situation in the last few weeks. Many lawmakers from the Democratic Party, constitutional experts and even the Republican Party have rejected President Trump’s unconstitutional proposal to postpone the election.
It is certain that the election will be held on November 3, but this election will be different from any election in the past. The coronavirus posed three major challenges to the US presidential election.
No party has yet decided how the nomination will be formalized. Large-scale rallies, much to President Trump’s liking, will not be possible; This is clear after Trump’s campaign failed to get people to attend a June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at a cost of more than 2 million.
The first challenge is to run the election campaign. The election campaign usually begins with a large-scale convention of the parties in the summer. This time both parties have been forced to cancel the convention.
Such gatherings are also a threat to public health. All sorts of conventional campaigns, going from house to house or touring the country by bus will not work. In that context, television and social media have become important. The experience of 2016 is not positive at all in this regard.
Now, intelligence reports say, Russia’s propaganda is on the rise and will increase in the future. Joe Biden announced last Wednesday that he would spend 220 million on television advertising and 30 million on social media as part of his campaign.
No other candidate in the history of the United States has ever spent so much on television in an election campaign. Candidates, especially Joe Biden, have to deal with all kinds of fake news and propaganda, not just campaigning.
As a result, the 2020 election campaign will not only be a candidate’s campaign, it will become a battle of information.
The second challenge is to ensure that voters cast their ballots. For this, the Democrats want the system of postal voting to be universal, that is, to send ballots to everyone’s homes. There are now only five states that have this system: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah.
Local authorities in three states can make this decision. Ballots are mailed to any voter in 30 states, including Washington DC. Some other states have to show acceptable reasons for this.
President Trump is already campaigning on false allegations of postal vote fraud. Even then, Trump recently appointed Louis Dzoy as postmaster general, a major contributor to Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Louis DJ has made some changes in the postal department to delay the collection and delivery of mail. Many see these as attempts to reduce and delay the postal vote, and Democrat lawmakers are trying to take action against them. But the question is how successful you will be.
The third challenge of the election is to publish the correct results in time. If there is no fierce competition, the results are usually known on the night of the election. In 2016, 138 million citizens voted, a quarter of which came by post. Voters and postal voting are expected to increase this year. How fast this vote can be counted is a question.
It is feared that Trump may go to court if he does not lose by a large margin. Such a situation could lead to a repeat of the 2000 election. Republican candidate George W. Bush was elected president in 2000 after a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in a legal battle over the Florida vote count. That verdict came on December 12, five weeks after the election.
In the next few weeks, everyone’s attention will be focused on these challenges.
Ali Riaz: Distinguished Professor in the Department of Government and Politics, Illinois State University, USA.