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Editorial: President’s election claims undercutting faith in democracy

President Donald Trump for months has planted seeds of disbelief in our election process.

In the 10 days since the 2020 presidential election, Trump has gone far beyond sowing seeds and is now profoundly undercutting the faith of Americans in their elections with allegations of widespread voter fraud and claims the election was stolen.

The president’s recent tweets spew unfounded tales of millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots, systems switching votes from him to apparent winner Joe Biden and a “rigged election” in general. Two days after the election, Trump pronounced it a “corrupt system.”

He’s claimed he can prove his allegations, but has yet to produce any evidence of widespread fraud or a rigged election.

Of course, ballots are still being counted in some states and there will be a recount in Georgia (but recounts rarely produce the thousands of votes needed to change this outcome.) And legal battles are still alive, with perhaps the strongest one contesting a Pennsylvania court decision that allowed that state to count late-arriving ballots. (But the number of votes at issue is much too small an amount to make a difference in the current unofficial totals.)

In the 2000 election, Al Gore initially called George W. Bush on election night to tell him he was going to concede, then called back a half hour later to retract that concession. Gore challenged the results for more than a month and did not concede until Dec. 13, 2000, after the Supreme Court ruled against the Florida recount.

It was Gore’s right to contest the election, as it is Trump’s, but the delay cut deeply into Bush’s ability to smoothly transition into office.

Trump’s administration should not stand in the way of Biden initiating the transition process, including access to intelligence briefings

This election, Democrats and Republicans alike wanted a clear winner to quickly emerge, but the deep divisions in our country didn’t let that happen.

We’ve had disputed presidential elections before, but Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud without strong evidence are serious indictments. They tarnish the image of the United States as one of the world’s greatest democracies – not only on the international stage but right here at home.

When a man who said he was an Afghanistan war veteran called an Albuquerque radio show Wednesday, the conversation shifted to the presidential election. The caller echoed Trump’s divisive claims, saying he was dismayed with the election returns. He then said if anyone were to ask him if he’d do it all over again, he’d say “nope,” that the country wasn’t worth fighting for any longer.

The responsibility of that veteran’s loss of faith in his country rests squarely at the feet of Trump.

There’s no excuse for a sitting president on a glide path to defeat to undercut our foundational belief in the democratic process.

President Trump ran on an America first platform in 2016, and he needs to close his term on that platform.

Putting America above oneself also means following the laws governing presidential transitions. And it means allowing Biden the access he is entitled to as the apparent president-elect.

Election integrity is paramount in America, and the courts should be allowed to do their jobs.

But claims of voter fraud shouldn’t be thrown at the wall by our commander in chief like spaghetti to see what sticks.

That doesn’t mean he must concede defeat now, but it does mean stopping the onslaught of divisive rhetoric alleging systemic voter fraud that has caused Americans to lose faith in their nation.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.