President Donald Trump plans to declare victory prematurely on election night if he takes the lead over Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to three sources who the president spoke with about the plan, reports Axios.
Trump’s allies expect he would need to either win or have substantive leads in Texas, Iowa, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina to make the announcement.
His campaign team is also preparing to claim that mail-in ballots, which surged in the 2020 primaries as the novel coronavirus spread, counted after Nov. 3 are evidence of election fraud.
Trump late Sunday dismissed the report as “false” but signaled that his team would mount a legal defense to ballots being counted after election day.
“I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over, because it can only lead to one thing,” Trump told reporters in Charlotte, N.C.
“I think there is great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place,” Trump continued. “We’re going to go in the night of – as soon as the election is over – we’re going in with our lawyers,” Trump said, mentioning the state of Pennsylvania specifically.
Election officials have cautioned that the winner of the presidential election may still be unknown on election night as mail-in ballots take longer to count than ballots cast at polling places. More than 26.5 million mail-in votes cast have been in the 49 presidential, state and combined primaries, out of nearly 53 million votes, according to data examined by the Pew Research Center, and some states might not have full results for up to two weeks.
Trump campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh told Axios the report was hogwash.
“This is nothing but people trying to create doubt about a Trump victory. When he wins, he’s going to say so,” he said.
Most polling has indicated in-person votes on Election Day will favor Trump while mail-in voting will favor Biden.