As the U.S. prepares for the election, a wrangle over the results is increasingly likely

This was part bungling, the result of a chaotic executive decision-making, and part apathy, borne of Mr. Trump’s disdain of masks, social distancing and lockdowns. Even in this approach, however unscientific, he may have won voter sympathy, perhaps because some appreciated his desire to reopen the economy, regardless of COVID-19. It is this sentiment that might prove to be Mr. Biden’s undoing as vote tallying comes to a close in the days and weeks, ahead. Therein lies a major force likely to shape the denouement of this election: the pandemic has resulted in a massive shift in the balance of voting methods toward early voting, mail-in voting and absentee voting. Mr. Trump has attacked mail-in voting with factually unfounded claims regarding potential for fraud and a Democratic conspiracy. Given that well over 90 million votes have been cast already through the latter channels, and that far more Republicans and Trump supporters are likely to vote in-person on November 3, the early results will likely show a significant lead for Mr. Trump. If, as is likely, the scales start tipping toward Mr. Biden as the mail-in votes are tallied, the stage will be set for Mr. Trump to formally allege voting fraud and escalate the matter to the Supreme Court — a Court that did not hesitate to rule on the 2000 election favouring Republican George W. Bush. Given that the Republican-controlled Senate recently rushed to fill an empty seat on the Court with conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett, the 6-3 majority on the Court favouring conservatives may well have a bearing in such an eventuality. Only a strong performance by Mr. Biden on election day to add to the early-voting leads will obviate this possibility.

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