“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD,” Trump charged on Twitter Sunday afternoon. He followed up the claim early Monday morning, writing, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
He also told supporters at a Florida rally last week, “This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged. This is reality. You know it, they know it, I know it, and pretty much the whole world knows it.”
Trump’s accusations of widespread voter fraud are unfounded and unprecedented — public claims of rigged polling places haven’t occurred in any other modern presidential elections, said USA Today.
And his claims could come with dangerous consequences. Matt Viser and Tracy Jan of The Boston Globe report that some Trump supporters believe his repeated claims that the election is rigged and that if he loses, it will be because of a huge conspiracy against him. Some supporters are even talking about starting a violent revolution or assassinating Clinton if she is elected president.
Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, told The Boston Globe of Clinton, “If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot … We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed.”
Trump’s claims are in stark contrast to the message his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, was focused on disseminating over the weekend.
Pence told Meet the Press‘ Chuck Todd that the GOP would “absolutely accept” the election results as the “will of the American people.”
Thus far, Trump hasn’t presented any evidence of his claims of election rigging, and the insinuations have been rejected by some within his own party — leading to an even deeper divide in the already embattled GOP.
A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan — who is at odds with the Republican nominee — told TIME of the rigging accusations, “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”
Added Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, “States, backed by tens of thousands of GOP and DEM volunteers, ensure integrity of electoral process. Elections are not rigged.”
“[Trump’s claims are] irresponsible,” Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who oversees the state’s elections process, told CNN. “He should focus on issues that matter to people … The idea of widespread voter fraud would require some systemic problem in our system, and so if there’s a systemic problem, please identify it.”
Not all GOP members have refuted Trump’s baseless claims, however. Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani even suggested during a Sunday SNN appearance that “dead people generally vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.”
“You want me to [say] that I think the election in Philadelphia and Chicago is going to be fair? I would have to be a moron to say that,” he said.
And on This Week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t deny that he believes the election is rigged — but steered the blame toward the media. “This is not about election officials at the precinct level.”
“This is about last Friday when the networks spent 23 minutes on the Trump tape,” Gingrich said. “And less than one minute, all three networks combined, less than one minute on the Hillary Clinton‘s secret speeches that were being revealed on WikiLeaks.”