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This combination of Sept. 29, 2020, file photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Patrick Semansky

by Sissi Wang

There has been much concern, fear and angst leading into the US election, as president Donald Trump’s rhetoric has become more pointed. Trump has been repeatedly making claims about voter fraud, stirring up anger among his supporters. Some scholars are worried that Trump’s words could translate to real-world violence.

Ryerson University history professor Ron Stagg said along with the swing states, he’ll be paying close attention to the reaction of Trump supporters tonight.

“This is where the possibility of violence is very strong,” Stagg said.

“People have never been as strongly divided on issues as they are right now. And the people who lose out, some of them are people who will take action.”

For the past several months, Trump has been making claims about voter fraud and the Democrats rigging the election. His online supporters have been pushing the narrative of a “rigged election,” which has scholars like Stagg fearing a full-blown protest with possible violence if Trump were to lose.

“Trump has stirred up all of these forces of division, and some of them have guns and believe that if Biden wins, the country’s going to go downhill,” Stagg said.

Stagg said the Canadian government has been preparing for election night violence as well.

Stagg also believes there’s a possibility that Trump will also try to undermine the election results should he lose, and the biggest danger is if the margin is very slight, and Trump can claim that mail-in ballots were fraudulent.

Last month, the US Postal Service unveiled a new ad, a timely one, speaking to the integrity of the services and its workers.

“We are here to deliver your cards, your packages and your prescriptions, and also deliver the peace of mind knowing that what’s important to you like your ballot is on its way,” the ad said.

“I would not be surprised if he tries something,” Stagg said of Trump’s efforts to undermine the mail-in vote.

“But what he tries I don’t know. Whether he’ll just cry foul and encourage his supporters to protest, whether he’ll take it to the Supreme Court.”

But even if Biden wins without a protest, with the current division in the country, Cornell University professor Allen Carlson believes that the challenges will be steep for the Biden administration.

“Should Biden win, assuming that presidency with a percentage of the population say somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent that won’t see him as legitimate, and don’t seem to believe anymore in empirical data, the underlying problems will not be resolved by the outcome one way or the other,” Carlson said.

“It’ll be a difficult few years regardless.”

Stagg says Biden will have to unite America if he wins, and will have to take steps to deal with right-wing groups and Trump supporters who believe that the U.S. is losing out in trade, which won’t be an easy job.

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