'Dangerously authoritarian': Trump says 'hopefully' courts will stop states from counting ballots after Election Day
President Donald Trump on Wednesday once again openly voiced hope that U.S. courts—now packed with his right-wing judges—will intervene and stop states from counting legally submitted ballots after November 3, remarks that came just before the U.S. Supreme Court suggested it could invalidate late-arriving Pennsylvania votes after Election Day.
"Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to count ballots, that won't be allowed by the various courts because as you know we're in courts on that," Trump said during a press conference in Las Vegas.
Trump went on to tout as a "big victory" the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this week barring Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline past November 3 at 8:00 pm local time.
"The president is essentially saying he will litigate to try and stop the count of absentee ballots (the count of which is never completed on Election Day)," tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. According to one estimate, "about 10 percent of all votes" cast in the 2016 election were counted after Election Day.
"Also, when is he imagining that military mail-in votes will be counted?" asked Ifill. "He is trying to make this sound normal. It's not."
@nielslesniewski Trump: "Hopefully the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to c… https://t.co/gl9JggKpfj— The Recount (@The Recount) 1603909973
"He's saying it out loud: he wants courts to block legally cast ballots from being counted," said Brian Klaas, a Washington Post contributor and associate professor of global politics University College London. "This is so dangerously authoritarian."
The president's comments came shortly before the Supreme Court late Wednesday permitted North Carolina and Pennsylvania to extend their arrival deadlines for mail-in ballots, blocking Republican efforts to require strict Election Day deadlines.
But, as Common Dreamsreported, the high court left open the possibility of invalidating late-arriving Pennsylvania ballots shortly after the election. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said he only "reluctantly" denied the Pennsylvania GOP's push for the rejection of ballots that arrive after Election Day and said the high court could take up the case again after November 3.
"The Supreme Court may throw out ballots that arrive after Election Day—even though they are valid under current law," warnedSlate's Mark Joseph Stern. "DO NOT MAIL YOUR BALLOT. Drop it off or vote in person. Don't leave your vote in the hands of the Supreme Court."