By Joe DeMartin ’21 (he/him), Senior Political Correspondent

In a year dominated by precariousness and incertitude, Election Night 2020 did not break the trend. Countless Americans were glued to their televisions, refreshing their browsers, as results trickled in — or sometimes did not — throughout the night. 

And then came the words that shocked an otherwise droopy-eyed, tired audience. In the early hours of the morning, the President of the United States, speaking indoors, from a room inside the White House, packed full of maskless supporters, said, “Frankly, we did win the election… We want all voting to stop.”

This claim is totally false. Donald Trump has not won the election. His declaration is unacceptable, unconscionable, and undemocratic. To “want all voting to stop” and to say so from within the White House is disgraceful. The threat of not counting every vote is a direct attack on the franchise and reveals a blatant willingness to undermine the democratic will of the people.  

As President of Davidson’s Center for Political Engagement, I released the following statement: “I hoped not to have to make this statement, but in this instance, radical clarity is necessary: The President of the United States falsely claimed tonight that he has won the election. This election is not over. All the votes must be counted.” 

In the hours following his false declaration, the President took to Twitter to spread more disinformation. He doubled down on this declaration of victory despite not having the complete vote count. “We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead. Additionally, we hereby claim the State of Michigan…”  Twitter has marked seven of the president’s tweets as “misleading about an election or other civic process” or otherwise false.

Trump’s bluster did not stay contained to his Twitter feed. His plea to have all voting stop actually translated into demonstrations from his supporters at vote counting locations across the country. In Detriot, Michigan (Wayne County), we saw pro-Trump protestors banging on the glass of the TCF Center, demanding that the counting of votes stop. In Phoenix, Arizona (Maricopa County), about 200 demonstrators gathered outside of a vote processing facility. I implore you to watch that linked video, it’s an extraordinary piece of journalism from MSNBC’s Gadi Schwartz that explains — much better than I could — the protest on the ground there. There have been similar demonstrations throughout the day in Philadelphia (Philadelphia County) and Harrisburg (Dauphin County), Pennsylvania. 

The President’s dissemination of disinformation also delved into legal challenges to the vote count. Suits in Michigan and Georgia have already been dismissed by judges. Yesterday in Pennsylvania, the President sent his personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, and his son, Eric Trump, to claim — without providing evidence — that election fraud occurred and announce a lawsuit challenging the results. They are threatening to throw out votes that, while postmarked before Election Day, arrived after Election Day. This despite the fact that PA state law clearly states that mail-in ballots could be received until Friday, November 6 by 5:00pm. 

We saw a similar event in Nevada from the chairman of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, and Former Acting Director of National Intelligence, Ric Grenell. They both made claims that ballots were sent to 10,000 ineligible voters who don’t live in Nevada. To be sure, this happens all the time for military and overseas ballots and for college students, too. But as of now it is unclear as to the veracity of the claims of fraud. MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff attempted to gain insight into the evidence used for the lawsuit, but neither Grenell nor Schlapp obliged. 

It is important to make a crucial distinction. In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign is calling for a recount, and they have every right to do so. There are legal processes that govern recounts. The margin is within one point, so a recount is allowed. However, as former Republican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker — who knows a thing or two about recounts — explained, the current margin is a “high hurdle” to clear for the results to be reversed.  

All in all, things are changing every hour. There are still millions of votes left to count, and it is imperative to the legitimacy of democratic norms that every legal vote is counted. 
Currently, the states to watch are Arizona (which some outlets have called for Biden and others have not), Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Biden leads 253-214 in the Electoral Vote count (264-214 if you count Arizona). To follow along with the latest updates on what votes are left to be counted, follow @The_Davidsonian on instagram where I am reporting live on the major updates in the vote count.