This article originally appeared on Real Clear Politics on November 10, 2020.
Joe Biden has made it clear that he will do his best to “unify” the country following an election in which more than 71 million Americans – nearly half the electorate – voted for Donald Trump. It is an admirable goal. But any chance of that happening depends on the American people having confidence that the election outcome resulted from a fair and honest process. Though never perfect, our electoral system has generally instilled confidence for the past 231 years, which is why it has worked so well.
Under the contentious circumstances of this election, the traditional media’s decision to declare a victor before the official process had run its course has diminished the confidence of Trump voters in the announced result. Even if the declaration of a Biden victory is found to be accurate, the call was premature, and it will make the effort to unify our nation far more difficult.
Like millions of voters from both sides of the political aisle, I’m sensitive to the need for a definitive election outcome, untainted by irregularities or allegations of fraud. Even with razor-thin margins separating the two candidates in key states, we should be able to arrive at a final result that both sides can accept.
President Trump is contesting the reported results in those states where the race is close, and the conduct of election officials and the processes used appear suspicious. He is clearly within his rights to contest the results; his supporters generally want him to do so. Allowing the legal process to run its course is the only way to foster the unity Biden seeks.
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