The UAW 4121 Election Response Workgroup developed this FAQ around the 2020 general election as a resource to organize to ensure a safe and respected election and a peaceful transition of power. You can find additional FAQs and resources at the Election Response Action & Resource Center. An FAQ on General Strike questions is forthcoming soon. If you have specific questions or concerns that you would like addressed, please fill out this form.
Q: How could Trump steal the election?
A: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a greater number of mail-in ballots to count, which surveys have shown will swing overwhelmingly Democratic. This, combined with general voter suppression, makes it highly unlikely that we will have election results on Election Day or shortly thereafter.
From this, Trump could take advantage of an early lead on Election Day and claim victory, suppressing the counting of mail-in votes that could cause him to fall behind. Given that he is the sitting president, he could order his administration to suppress the count and pave the way for his re-election, saying mail-in votes are “fraudulent”. He could also attempt to claim victory if the Election Day results are unclear or full of inconsistencies.
Q: What is the timeline for counting votes?
A: State deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots range from November 3 to 23, and already the Supreme Court has intervened to set some of these dates. This is particularly ominous given that the Court now has a 6-3 conservative majority with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. States still have time to count ballots before electoral votes need to be cast by Electoral College electors on December 14, though the official record of these votes is not confirmed by Congress until January 6. Find more information about the timeline (which you can share with your students!) here.
Q: Could these timelines be extended to ensure enough time to count votes?
A: Two bills have been introduced in Congress that could potentially extend the time to count votes. (1) S. 4517 which would push back the Electoral College vote to January 2, while (2) H.R. 8492 would push back the Electoral College vote to January 2, expedite the communication process of electoral votes, and reschedule Congress’s confirmation.
Q: How will we ensure that all the votes are counted?
A: It is essential that we leverage our power as workers to defend democratic rights and ensure every vote is counted. This could include protests and strikes in solidarity with the national labor movement, depending on how far the Trump administration is willing to go. Additionally, there will likely be court challenges over the vote counting process, but these can be influenced by our actions. As history has shown, it will be important for us to not rely on legal processes to work on their own, and we’ll need to take coordinated collective action to build power for a fair outcome. While it’s unlikely that votes in Washington state would be contested, if they were, we would also mobilize to support the safety of the ballot-counting locations and ballot counters.
Q: What happens if there is a tie or if there are problems with the Electoral College that prevent a winner from being named?
A: We would enter a contingent election, where the president would be determined by the newly seated House of Representatives, where each state delegation casts a vote for one of the three candidates with the most votes in order to determine a winner. The vice president would be determined by the Senate, where Senators individually cast a vote for one of the two candidates with the most votes in order to determine a winner.
Q: Could Trump refuse to leave office despite losing the election?
A: Yes. Trump could refuse to concede, claim the vote was rigged by “fraudulent” mail-in ballots, and direct his administration to carry out this agenda. Our response, as in the previous cases, is to build mass protests and strikes, demanding that he submit to the vote and leave office.