Trump accused of undermining US democracy by international elections watchdog
- US President Donald Trump's bid to discount millions of legitimate ballots is undermining trust in US democracy, international election observers said in a report.
- "Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions," concluded observers from the OSCE.
- The monitors also singled out Trump's "discriminatory and pejorative statements" for criticism.
- In a move unprecedented in recent US history, Trump questioned the authenticity of millions of ballots, and declared himself victor despite the result of the election being unclear.
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US President Donald Trump's "baseless" allegations of electoral fraud and "unprecedented attempts to undermine public trust" are eroding faith in US democracy, international election observers said in a report.
The report is a stinging rebuke for the US electoral system, usually admired around the world.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which observes elections in the West and former Soviet Union, sent observers to this year's American presidential election at the invitation of the US government.
They concluded that the contest had been "competitive and well managed" despite legal uncertainties and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But they noted that "in a highly polarized political environment, acrimonious campaign rhetoric fueled tensions."
"Uncertainty caused by late legal challenges and evidence-deficient claims about election fraud created confusion and concern among election officials and voters," they noted.
"Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions."
They said that Trump's refusal ahead of the election to commit to a peaceful transition of power, and baseless accusation that the election was being rigged against him, "weaken public confidence in state institutions."
It said these events "were perceived by many as increasing the potential for politically motivated violence after the elections."
Trump has repeatedly, and groundlessly, sought to cast doubt on the authenticity of the huge surge in ballots cast by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
And early Wednesday morning, Trump falsely declared himself victor despite the fact that millions of legitimate ballots were yet to be counted.
He has continued to suggest that the election is being rigged against him, while providing no evidence to substantiate the claim.
His behaviour has been likened by experts who spoke to Business Insider to that of despots usually condemned by the US for violating democratic norms.
In recent weeks US Republicans have launched a slew of challenges to state mail-in ballot rules, and on Wednesday demanded a recount of votes in Wisconsin, where Biden has been declared winner by a slender margin. The campaign is poised to challenge the process of counting mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, where Trump's early lead is diminishing.
The OSCE found that "the legal uncertainty caused by this ongoing litigation placed an undue burden on some voters wishing to cast their ballots and on election administration officials."
The report notes that "animosity and heated" rhetoric from both sides drowned out discussion of policy, and the candidates accused each other of "corruption, fraud, working for foreign interests, an inability to lead, and support for extremist groups."
It noted that "the incumbent president's use of discriminatory and pejorative statements against individuals on the grounds of their gender and origin was of particular concern."
The OSCE has been invited to observe US elections since 2002, but usually reserves its most critical judgement for states in areas of the former Soviet Union, where corruption is endemic and reporters face violent intimidation.
The observers in the report noted that they were staying in the US while votes were yet to be counted.
"Making sure that every vote is counted is a fundamental obligation for all branches of government," they wrote.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.