Challenging US election results may not be easy for Donald Trump: Report

Washington: The results of the American presidential election, even though it has a national impact, can be challenged only at the state level and could be a time-consuming process, a study has shown amid apprehension of mass scale voter fraud and electoral malpractice by Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Reuters

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Reuters

"It is an individual state that has the initial responsibility for resolving a challenge, recount, or contest to the results of a presidential election within that jurisdiction," said a report of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), an independent research wing of Congress.

And if Trump decides to challenge the results, the burden of proof would be on him, it said.

Authored by legislative attorney Jack Maskell, the brief report running into less than 10 pages notes that under the US Constitution, the states are delegated the initial and principal authority for the administration of elections within their jurisdictions, including elections to federal office.

"Such election administration in the states would generally include provisions for recounts, challenges, or contests to the results of such elections in the state that may be filed by the appropriate parties within a specific time frame and procedure established by state law," it said.

CRS reports are not official reports of the Congress but are prepared by eminent experts for lawmakers to have informed decisions on issue of their concerns.


Over the past few week, Trump has been alleging that there could be large scale voter fraud against him in the 8 November general election.

The allegations have been dismissed by leaders of both the Democratic and Republican party and from the federal election commission. In the third and final presidential debate, Trump refused to give a commitment that he would accept the results of the election.

A day later he said that he would accept if he wins and has kept his options open to challenge the results if he feels that there is need to do so.

Recounts of election results generally involve a re-canvassing or re-tabulation of votes and/or vote tallies that were given and recorded in the state or in particular election districts, it said.

Such recounts may be automatic under state statute for particularly close election results, or may follow a request or petition for a recount made by a candidate under circumstances that allow such recounts.

According to the CRS report, the burden of proof is upon the challenger, that is, the moving party, not only to prove all of the allegations and charges with specific, credible evidence, but also in the case of an election contest to show that any fraud or irregularity proven was to such an extent that it would actually have changed the result of the election or rendered the actual outcome reasonably uncertain.

The CRS report argued that there is little evidence of mass scale voter fraud in US elections.

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Updated Date: Oct 26, 2016 14:17:01 IST

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