PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — President Donald Trump continues to question the validity of mail-in ballots, suggesting that he might not give up his office if Joe Biden wins because of them.
That brought a swift response from both sides in Pennsylvania following the question at Wednesday’s press conference.
Reporter: Will you commit today to a peaceful transfer of power after the election?
President Trump: Well, we are going to have to see what happens. You know that I have been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. … Get rid of the ballots, and we’ll have a peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly – they’ll be a continuation.
Despite assurances from bipartisan election officials that mail-in ballots are safe, Trump’s words raised alarms across the political spectrum.
“I think he’s threatening us, and I think he’s threatening the voters in Pennsylvania, and I consider it a serious threat,” Nancy Patton Mills, chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted that “there will be an orderly transition.”
The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 24, 2020
But Trump’s unhappiness with mail-in ballots worries Democrats who think the president loses, he will fill lawsuits to get a Republican-controlled Supreme Court to declare him the winner. Pennsylvania Republicans are already in court, saying it’s the Democrats who are changing election laws.
“They’re the ones who want to change the rules,” says state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, the state House Majority Leader. “They’re the ones who want to count ballots longer. They’re the ones that don’t want to have postmarked dates on your ballot.”
Benninghoff says Republicans just want legitimate votes cast and counted.
“Republicans care about free, fair and secure elections. That’s always been our focus,” said Rep. Benninghoff.
Democrats say Trump’s disdain for mail-in ballots is now pushing many, despite the risk of coronavirus, to vote in person.
“I know a lot of people have decided, in light of what he said, that they’re going to the polls, and they will not vote by absentee ballot, and that’s up to the individual. But this is a threat to our democracy,” says Mills.
On Twitter, U.S. Senator Bob Casey said Trump’s “refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power is deeply offensive to our Nation’s constitutional values.”
The President’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power is deeply offensive to our Nation’s constitutional values. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/JpHN2vxzr9
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) September 24, 2020