By Sarjo Brito, FPC International Reporting Tour Participant, Phoenix, Arizona
Former US President Donald J. Trump might not be on the ballot, but he is continuing to shadow the midterm elections as Democrats accuse him of opening the floodgates for election denialism.
The former US president denied the results of the 2020 presidential election, accusing the system of fraud and vote rigging. Donald Trump’s allegations of voter fraud gave birth to the January 6 Capitol insurrection after pro-Trump supporters stormed the building in a bid to disrupt the certification process by Congress.
As the midterm election looms, some Republican candidates who also have the backing of the former president are treading on the same path, questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election results, and using it as part of their campaign pitches to voters.
According to research, 65% of Republican voters view Biden’s presidency as illegitimate. Some GOP candidates including Arizona’s Blake Masters are already touting election denialism ahead of the November 8 polls which Democrats say put America’s democracy under threat.
Democratic Policy Advisor for the Fontes campaign in Arizona Steven Slugochi told this medium that the rhetoric of election denialism is dangerous for America’s democracy, citing instances of voter intimidation in the State of Arizona as citizens try taking matters into their own hands in an effort to monitor the system.
“I am worried about violence and what could happen. I feel like all these Republican polls – you can see them now on Twitter with them almost laying the groundwork for saying that this election is stolen. You know Blake Masters says that this election is stolen, and it hasn’t even happened yet. That is dangerous what they are saying. We have to make sure that we have faith in our democracy, faith in our elections, and that whatever happens, we accept the results, and we move on.’’
Questioning the legitimacy of electoral processes or denying the results may be the new challenge America’s democracy faces but across the world in Africa, many observers believe it is the playbook for most opposition leaders in the face of defeat. In The Gambia, during the 2021 presidential election, major opposition candidate including two other leading opposition candidates all rejected the results of the presidential election, citing inordinate delay in the transmission of results and party agents’ refusals to sign the results sheets because of the irregularities they observed at the polls.
Leading opposition candidate Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Mama Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), and independent candidate Essa Faal were the three who questioned the legitimacy of President Adama Barrow’s 2021 presidential election victory. However, Gambia’s Supreme Court would dismiss the plea of UDP to annul the outcome of the December 4 presidential election.
Meanwhile, in the US, former President Donald Trump continues to tease his comeback into the political arena as he sets sight on the 2024 Presidential run for the Oval Office. Trump in a New York Magazine interview put an end to speculations about his political return, disclosing that the decision to run was already made and the focus is now on when to announce his bid to seek office again.