Why Democratic voters might stay home on Election Day

Could ominous warnings about voter suppression suppress the vote?

A shredded vote.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

Alarm is growing in Democratic circles that the massively unpopular President Trump might connive to keep himself in office past January even if he is voted out. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party's presumptive nominee, has warned repeatedly that Trump will steal the election. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Sunday said he believes the president "plans to install himself in some kind of emergency way to continue to hold onto office." Publications including The Atlantic and The Washington Post have carried stories speculating that Trump will usurp the election or reject its results. Trump himself fed the speculation last week by suggesting the election be delayed — a notion quickly squashed by Republican officeholders across the spectrum.

These warnings are rooted in Trump's clear disregard for American democracy, or any rule that keeps him from getting what he wants. But what if all this doomsaying scares Biden's voters away from the polls? Rick Henderson, editor-in-chief of Carolina Journal — and a friend of mine — raised the question Sunday: "'Responsible' people on both sides seeding doubt about the legitimacy of the election (and possible transfer of power) is nuts," he wrote on Twitter. "If no one trusts the election to be fair, why would anyone want to vote and play a sucker's game?"

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Joel Mathis, The Week US

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who has spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His work also regularly appears in National Geographic, The Kansas City Star and Heatmap News. His awards include best online commentary at the Online News Association and (twice) at the City and Regional Magazine Association.