What happens if Trump tries to steal the election?


Republican campaign operatives, congressional staffers and lawyers threaten vote counting in Florida in 2000
Republican campaign operatives, congressional staffers and lawyers threaten vote counting in Florida in 2000. | Photo: Colin Braley/Reuters

By David Sole

With only days left before the November 3 U.S. elections many are focused on turning out voters for their preferred candidates. However some groups and individuals are making plans on what to do if President Donald Trump refuses to accept a possible loss in the voting.

Repeatedly, over the past months, Trump has publicly stated that he will not bow to an electoral defeat. He has proclaimed over and over that mail-in ballots are riddled with fraud, with no evidence to back up his claim. Lawyers for his Republican Party are everywhere filing legal challenges to suppress the vote. And right-wing militias have been shown on TV fully armed and claiming that they will not allow Trump to be voted out. In Houston’s Harris County, Texas, Republicans are again seeking to block nearly 127,000 drive-thru ballots that were cast during early voting from being tabulated until the court issues an order, after having lost the original suit in the Texas Supreme Court. Texas drive-thru-voting hearing.

On October 31, on the last day of early voting in North Carolina, police  and sheriff deputies attacked an “I am Change” get-out-the-vote march of some 200 people trying to get to the polls in the city of Graham. The cops used pepper spray on the crowd which included children as young as three years old. Eight people were arrested, including Rev. Greg Drumwright, organizer of the march. As NPR reported:

Sylvester Allen Jr., an activist in Alamance County, says police had attempted to take a generator being used by people speaking.

“The whole point was to rally and go to the voter polls,” Allen told NPR. “They wanted to send a message that we don’t have any power.”

When asked if he thought this was an effort to suppress the vote, [Reverend] Drumwright said, “I cannot say that that was what it was, but I can say that’s what happened. There are people that did not get to vote today because they ended up in jail.”

In 1870, Wyatt Outlaw, the first African American elected to be Town Commissioner and Constable in Graham, was dragged from his home by the Ku Klux Klan and lynched in the town square in front of that same courthouse. No one was punished for his murder.

According to an October 31 article in the Guardian:

Trucks with Trump signs and flags surrounded a Biden campaign bus on a Texas highway on Friday and attempted to slow the vehicle down and run it off the road, the Biden campaign said on Saturday.

Some of the Trump supporters surrounding the Biden campaign bus were armed, according to Democratic state representative Rafael Anchía and other observers.

Responding to these threats to our democratic rights has been the beginnings of resistance. One of the first to act was a coalition of three community based organizations that called for the formation of “People’s Committees to Defend Democratic Rights.” The “Call to Organize” was issued October 1 and signed by the Moratorium Now Coalition of Detroit, the Peoples Alliance from the Bay Area and the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement. This document urged a broad front of labor and community groups to prepare for a General Strike if needed. People’s Committees – Moratorium NOW! Coalition

Only days later, on October 8, the Rochester, NY Labor Council passed a resolution also calling for a General Strike to stop Trump from stealing the election and urging the national AFL-CIO to take up this issue. Rochester Labor Council – defending democracy, opposing authoritarian-rule

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, ILWU Local 10, in the Bay area passed a resolution which stated:

3) We support the mobilization of the entire labor movement independently of the Democrats and Republicans in worker actions and a united front to stop the growing racist fascistic terror encouraged by Trump and his Neo-nazi cronies. 

4) We need to prepare for mass national working class united front strike action to force Trump out in his efforts to terrorize Blacks and other working class communities in order to prevent them from voting and attempting a coup to stay in office.

In the weeks that followed the Seattle M.L.K.’s Central Labor Council and the Western Massachusetts Area Central Labor Council passed similar resolutions recognizing that trade unions might need to utilize their “nuclear option” to preserve democratic rights in the country.

A progressive caucus inside the American Library Association known as the Social Responsibility Round Table, based in Pittsburgh, PA joined this movement on October 29. Their Action Council urged “information workers to participate actively in peaceful demonstrations and/or strike actions to oppose any coup attempt associated with this election.”

Across the country organizing has proceeded for demonstrations to be held on November 4, the day after the election in anticipation that Trump or his followers might try to declare victory on election night, before mail-in votes are able to be counted in many states.  Groups such as the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the Southern Workers Assembly,  the United National Anti-War Coalition and Protect the Results have put out calls for November 4 and later actions. Demonstrations were announced in several cities in Wisconsin, the San Francisco Bay Area, Baltimore, and Detroit, among other places

While not using general strike language, seven Bay Area central labor councils have announced plans for mass protests on November 7 to protect the vote. The action is set to take place on the Embarcadero, the waterfront roadway of the busy Port of San Francisco. This is in line with labor’s and progressive organizations’ across the country concerns that Trump plans to defy a peaceful transfer of power should he lose.

These labor and community groups have laudably been making plans for worst case scenarios so that people are not left unprepared and having to scramble to respond. Unfortunately, it was reported in a Truthout article, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka opposed these actions. In a virtual meeting of national labor leaders on October 23 Trumka was said to have called them premature and urged his affiliates to solely work on getting out the vote for Democrat Joe Biden. But those people with a knowledge of the history of fascism know that waiting can be dangerous.

In Michigan organizing has been going on for weeks led by an impressive coalition of both unions and community organizations. Action Councils of local leaders have been established in 18 cities and counties across the state to build local actions and to coordinate statewide. Virtual meetings of the Detroit Action Council have brought together a wide variety of people and organizations to prepare for demonstrations November 4 and November 7. A real united front against fascism is emerging that notably includes the Detroit Will Breathe group that has led demonstrations almost daily since the May 25 police murder of George Floyd.

While some unions are participating already, much more work needs to be done in that area. It is hoped that once the polls close on November 3, many unions might turn their attention to defending democratic rights, especially if the right-wing and fascist elements, including Donald Trump, commit flagrant outrages.

Even if the worst case threats by Trump  don’t materialize and Biden wins the election, the organizers of the Detroit Action Council, Bay Resistance in the SF Bay Area, and many other coalitions nationwide are already discussing the need to raise strong demands in the streets focused on Black Lives Matter, jobs, health care, the environment and other issues that many believe will not be followed through by the Democratic Party largely controlled by the Wall Street bankers and corporations.

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