Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made talk of a rigged election as part of his stump speech and said that there will be an attempt at widespread voter fraud to halt his bid for the presidency.
“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day,” Trump tweeted. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
The media is also to blame for the for backing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump complained.
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places – SAD,” he tweeted.
Trump surrogates like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani have also complained of potential voter fraud.
"I've found very few situations where Republicans cheat... they don't control the inner cities the way Democrats do. Maybe if Republicans controlled the inner cities, they'd do as much cheating as Democrats," he told CNN, according to the BBC. "I'm sorry. Dead people generally vote for Democrats rather than Republicans.”
Critics of Trump's rhetoric said that complaining of a rigged election could cause a dangerous reaction on election day from people who believe the government cheated them out of a fair election and it would be the GOP's duty to ensure its voters otherwise.
“What this would be is an assault on the foundations of the long-established traditions of the country, an assault on democracy, vandalizing it,” said Steve Schmidt, the Republican strategist who led John McCain’s 2008 campaign, reported Politico. “It would be incumbent finally on national leaders in the Republican Party to speak clearly, unequivocally about not just the situation, but the totality of it.”
As for Trump's talk of the election being rigged, political scientists said this might be the first time a major party candidate has clearly made that possibility a part of his campaign rhetoric.
"There have certainly been candidates who toyed with apocalyptic language - Teddy Roosevelt running for the GOP nomination in 1912 comes to mind - but none has made questioning the validity of the election a centerpiece of his campaign," said Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor in presidential studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, according to USA Today. "There's just no useful historical precedent that I've come across, certainly not at the national level. Historians hesitate to label things unprecedented, but the word is certainly getting a workout this election."