Bernie Sanders has warned against Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election and urged Americans to “listen to and take seriously” his threats, including his recent refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
“This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” the Vermont seantor and Democratic runner-up said in remarks on Thursday. “This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win. ”
The senator said it is “absolutely essential” for Republicans, Democrats and others to combat the president’s threats “to keep faith with the American ideals we hold so dear and with the sacrifices that so many made in order to protect our democracy.”
During a White House briefing on Wednesday, the president said “we’re going to have to see what happens” before he can assure Americans that he will commit to a transfer of power. "
“We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly,” the president said from the White House. “There will be a continuation.”
“That’s not his choice,” Senator Sanders said. “That’s for the American people to determine. Let us be very clear. There is nothing in our constitution or in our laws that give Donald Trump the privilege of deciding whether or not he will step aside if he loses. In the United States the president does not determine who can or cannot vote and what ballots will be counted. That may be what his friend Putin does in Russia. It may be what is done in other authoritarian countries. But it is not and will not be done in America. This is a democracy.”
Senator Sanders and Chuck Schumer have urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to initiate a bipartisan committee to assure Americans that voting rights will be protected
The senators told Senator McConnell to hear testimony from state and local officials and election experts to “reassure the American people that the election will go smoothly and reliably.”
"Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the integrity of our elections,” the senators said in a statement. “Sadly, there are some who are systematically undermining public confidence in the voting process, and irresponsibly fanning suspicions and conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of election results.”
The committee would "hold hearings about what is being done around the country to make certain that our public institutions are prepared to conduct a smooth and reliable election which will be free from voter suppression and intimidation, that every vote will be counted and that there will be confidence in the ultimate outcome.”
Senator Sanders said it is “absolutely imperative” that voter turnout be the largest in US history and suggested voters “vote as early as possible” before Election Day on 3 November.
“A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy," he said.