Gellman: I think one of the wildcards is going to be what his state allies do. There are Republican governors in some crucial states, such as Florida. And if the president is on live television on election night saying that he has proof that Democrats are stuffing ballots, are cheating, are fraudulently causing the count to go against him, what’s Governor Ron DeSantis going to do? What are state authorities going to do? What are his supporters going to do? What are the militia types going to do if he says that forces from Antifa are threatening the integrity of the vote count? Who’s going to go and protect and secure the area? Who’s going to take possession of the ballots to make sure that they’re not stolen? I think anything could happen. I think the question is: do we expect his wild words to create wild action? And I do.
Dovere: You mentioned Florida. In 2000, Florida obviously was a very troublesome vote count. That went to the Supreme Court. When you were writing your story, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was alive. If Senate Republicans proceed as they seem to be in confirming a new justice, how important might the Supreme Court be to this election? What is the difference of if she is not confirmed before the election vs. having her there?
Gellman: We don’t know whether the court will be a venue of important action in this election. There will certainly be lots of litigation. There is already lots of litigation about the way the election will proceed, mostly in state courts, because election law is state law, primarily. And so you could have disputes about the election in state courts, for sure.
I believe the Supreme Court would be very reluctant to get involved in this election. Bush v. Gore was a traumatic event for the court and the country. Roberts, in particular, will be worried a great deal about the legitimacy of the court if it had to settle another election or if it chose to settle another election.
Dovere: Although President Trump has said that he wants the justice there to do that.
Gellman: Especially after the president has said he needs another justice when the court takes up this election. That would be an especially bad time for the court to do so. If it wants to keep its legitimacy as an institution apart from our democratic processes. I doubt the court will be eager to get involved. And the thing is, there are all kinds of ways for the process to be litigated, so to speak, without the participation of any court. The possibilities are that Trump will try to get his state allies to appoint Trump electors for the Electoral College because he’ll say the vote count is hopelessly damaged by fraud, that he will say, in order to represent the will of the people of your state, you need to appoint Trump electors because the Democrats are trying to steal the outcome. And if they do that, there are potentially two slates of electors who want to cast the same 20 votes for Pennsylvania and they’re casting them on opposite sides. And then Congress has to decide which votes count.