As It Happens

'Ugliest, most useless campaign I've ever seen' Republican lawyer says vote rigging impossible

Donald Trump continues to argue that the U.S. election could be rigged. But, Republican lawyer Mark Braden says Trump’s claims are impossible.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

If Donald Trump doesn't win the election on November 8, it's unclear whether he'll accept that result.

The Republican nominee made the point during the final presidential debate on Wednesday night. When asked by moderator Chris Wallace if he would accept the results of the election, Trump replied, "I'll tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense."

Trump reiterated this position to supporters at a rally in Delaware, Ohio on Thursday when he said, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win."

For weeks now, Trump has been claiming that the election is rigged against him by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign. But many, including Mark Braden, say it's impossible to rig the presidential election.

Braden is the former chief counsel for the Republican National Committee. Here's part of his conversation with As it Happens host Carol Off.

CAROL OFF: Mr. Braden, first of all, can we get your reaction to Mr. Trump's repeated claim that this election is rigged?

MARK BRADEN: Well, if what he's talking about is rigging the actual election process, of casting ballots and counting them, that's simply not true. It's not possible to rig a nation-wide, presidential election in the United States. It's way too big, too diverse.

CO: So, why is he insisting that vote-rigging is possible? And, he has support from a lot of Republicans who say, 'Well, maybe it can be rigged. Maybe it is being manipulated.'

MB: Why he says it? You have to ask him. I don't know the answer to that because I can't see, under any scenario, why it would be useful to him politically …

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton debates with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the third presidential debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (Mark Ralston/Pool via AP)
CO: What Mr. Trump is saying is not how the voting goes on, it's who is voting. One of the specifics he gives is these emails that Wikileaks has released, claiming that they are those of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, that suggest that the Democrats believe that illegal immigrants can vote with simply a driver's license. This is something that [the Trump campaign] is pointing to as evidence that … all kinds of people who are not qualified to vote, will be able to vote. What do you say to that?

MB: Well, do aliens in the United States — both legal and illegal aliens — vote? The answer to that is, without a doubt, yes. To affect a national election you'd have to figure out exactly which state or locale you'd have sufficient numbers to affect that election in that state. It's easy to come up with a plan to do it if you're talking about a city council race ... But, at a national level, there's no way of doing that. 

CO: Ok, what about Mr. Trump's claim that there are millions of ballot forms going to dead people?

MB: I heard his claim in the debate that there were millions of dead people registered to vote. That is, in fact, probably true. The registration rolls in many states have not been updated the way they should have … But, those people who are dead generally don't actually vote. There are occasionally examples of finding dead people voting — almost always absentee. There is some absentee fraud through the mail process in the United States. But, the fact that there's significant numbers of — for want of a better description — dead wood in the registration rolls, you can't convert that number to illegal votes.

CO: So rumours of hoards of dead people voting is exaggerated?

MB: Uh, that's the Walking Dead show.

CO: We've heard from some of our reporters covering the election that people in the audience, like in Salem, Virginia, a man said most people in the crowd have a gun and if Hillary Clinton wins, there's going to be "civil war". Is that something you're concerned with?

MB: I don't really believe that. We do not have a history of violence associated with our elections. Maybe I'm whistling past the graveyard but I don't generally believe this is an election where we're going to see violence. I just don't believe that. 

I've been in the business basically my whole professional career and without a doubt this is the ugliest, most useless campaign I've ever seen. It's a disaster.- Mark Braden

CO:  What do you think of the election campaign? From your point of view, what are your thoughts and feelings on it?

MB: I've been in the business, basically my whole professional career and without a doubt this is the ugliest, most useless campaign I've ever seen. It's a disaster. The primary system was ... how could you describe it as anything but failure. We've nominated two candidates which more than 60% of the electorate dislike and distrust. So, as you can tell, I'm not a happy camper about it.

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Mark Braden.

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