Trump Isn’t the First President to Contest an Election

Trump Isn't the First President to Contest an Election

( – Contesting presidential elections is nothing new. In American history, four presidential elections prior to 2020 were contested. The first occurred four years after George Washington’s second term, and the second was called an election of corruption. Another was immediately after the Civil War, and the most recent was following the 2000 election.

Over the last few weeks, a fever pitch of self-servicing criticism has grown among the media and Democrats. President Donald Trump refuses to concede the election over legal concerns that widespread voter fraud surrounding mail-in voting hurt his re-election bid.

On Sunday, December 13, NBC’s Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) about Trump’s refusal to concede to Joe Biden. The two exchanged jabs in a hot debate about the issue. Alexander reminded the host that Georgia gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams (D) never conceded the 2018 election. He added that’s is reasonable and fair to let candidates contest an election if they have evidence of wrongdoing.

4 Examples of Contested Presidential Elections in American History

Sen. Alexander offered a reasonable argument. President Trump is not alone in contesting an election in American history. Although there haven’t been many contested elections, 4 of them dated back as far as the election of 1800 to most recently in 2000.

The Election of 1800

In the 1800 election, a 3-way race ensued between President John Adams, Vice President Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr. Jefferson and Burr received the same number of Electoral College votes, and Adams was on the outside looking in. At the time, there were serious concerns about the future of the country. None of the candidates recognized each other as legitimate, and fear ran rampant among the country of what would happen if the wrong side won.

As a result of the Electoral College tie, the House of Representatives voted 36 times before finally declaring Jefferson the winner of the election.

The Election of 1824

In the election of 1824, four candidates threw an election into chaos. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, House Speaker Henry Clay, Treasury Secretary William Crawford, and Tennessee US Senator Andrew Jackson. Not one of the candidates received a majority of Electoral College votes.

Coincidentally, Jackson won the popular national vote.

In what was described as an election of corruption, Henry Clay’s supporters threw their weight behind Adams when the 2nd US President’s son agreed to make Clay his Secretary of State if he dropped out. The backroom bargaining infuriated Jackson, who would later win the 1828 election and serve 2 terms.

The Election of 1876

Following the Civil War, the election between New York Governor Samuel Tilden (D) and Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes (R) was perhaps the most heavily disputed in US history. Views on race in the aftermath of slavery, voting rights, and Reconstruction would reshape the country.

In 1876, 80% of eligible voters cast a ballot despite incredible suppression and intimidation of Republican voters who favored full rights for former slaves and increased federal powers.

On election night, Tilden and the media claimed victory after it appeared he won the popular vote. However, widespread voter intimidation and voter fraud threw the results into question. Ultimately, the Electoral College voted for Hayes by one vote.

The 2020 Election

In 2020, the presidential election between Vice President Al Gore (D) and Texas Gov. George W. Bush came down to Florida. At the end of election night, the race was close, but Gore conceded. However, he soon retracted his concession, and a battle ensued about the process of Florida elections and the intent of voters. “Hanging chads” had partially punched holes in cardboard ballets, and it was at the discretion of elected officials to decide what counted and didn’t count.

A month after the election, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-3 decision that counting ballots differently across the state was unconstitutional. As a result, Bush won Florida’s Electoral College and the presidency.

The four cases in US history show that times haven’t changed as much as many Americans may like. However, every presidential candidate has a right to a fair election. President Trump says he isn’t conceding, and the fight will go on, even after the Electoral College vote on Monday, December 14.

Don Purdum, Independent Political Analyst

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