Will You Accept the Election Results? Republicans Dodge the Question.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who have both given evasive answers when asked whether they will accept the results of this year’s election. (Doug Mills/The New York Times; Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The New York Times)
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who have both given evasive answers when asked whether they will accept the results of this year’s election. (Doug Mills/The New York Times; Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The New York Times)

Less than six months out from the presidential contest, leading Republicans, including several of Donald Trump’s potential running mates, have refused to commit to accepting the results of the election, signaling that the party may again challenge the outcome if its candidate loses.

In a series of recent interviews, Republican officials and candidates have dodged the question, responded with nonanswers or offered clear falsehoods rather than commit to a notion that was once so uncontroversial that it was rarely discussed before an election.

The evasive answers show how the former president’s refusal to concede his defeat after the 2020 election has ruptured a tenet of American democracy — that candidates are bound by the outcome. Trump’s fellow Republicans are now emulating his hedging well in advance of any voting.

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For his part, Trump has said he will abide by a fair election but has also suggested that he already considers the election unfair. Trump frequently refers to the federal and state charges he is facing as “election interference.” He has refused to rule out the possibility of another riot from his supporters if he loses again.

“If we don’t win, you know, it depends,” Trump said last month when asked by Time magazine about the prospect of political violence. “It always depends on the fairness of an election.”

When asked about Trump’s comments, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, one of the contenders to become Trump’s running mate, repeatedly evaded the question during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Here is how he and other Republicans have handled questions about challenging the outcome of the next election:

Sen. Tim Scott

Scott voted in the Senate to certify the 2020 election and said during a Republican presidential primary debate in August that former Vice President Mike Pence was correct to certify the results on Jan. 6, 2021. “Absolutely, he did the right thing,” Scott said.

But Scott evaded eight different attempts by Kristen Welker, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” to pin him down on whether he would accept the results of the next contest, no matter who won.

After repeatedly responding by predicting a Trump victory in November, Scott ultimately, and flatly, refused to engage.

“I’m not going to answer your hypothetical question,” he said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson

In a statement to The New York Times on Friday, Taylor Haulsee, a spokesperson for Johnson, said the speaker would “adhere to the rule of law” when it came to accepting election results in 2024.

“The speaker of the House has a duty to ensure each presidential election is conducted in compliance with the Constitution and all applicable laws, and to accept the results accordingly,” the statement said. “Speaker Johnson will always adhere to the rule of law. The speaker also recognizes the right of all candidates to contest election irregularities with litigation as appropriate.”

In past interviews, including one this month with Politico, Johnson has indicated that he believes adhering to the Constitution can mean challenging the results.

Johnson said he had no regrets about signing on to a lawsuit that sought to toss out millions of votes in states that had changed their voting rules during the coronavirus pandemic. The case was ultimately dismissed by the Supreme Court. Johnson also voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory.

“I would do the exact same thing today if the circumstances were presented,” Johnson told Politico.

Rep. Elise Stefanik

Stefanik, the highest-ranking woman in House Republican leadership and another potential running mate of Trump’s, has committed to accepting results “if they’re constitutional.”

The congresswoman, who is from New York, said the 2020 results were unconstitutional, pointing to the changes to voting procedures in some states. She also said she believed gerrymandered congressional districts in New York were “illegal.”

“What we saw in 2020 was unconstitutional circumventing of the Constitution, not going through state legislators when it comes to changing election law,” she told “Meet the Press.” “I see this at a very local level as well.”

Republicans often point to the pandemic-era voting rules as evidence that the 2020 election was marred. In some cases, disputes over the changes were litigated before the election. After he lost, Trump filed more than 60 lawsuits contesting the results and won just one. No court found the outcome to be in question.

Rep. Byron Donalds

Donalds, a Florida Republican on Trump’s list of potential running mates, said in an interview Friday that he would accept the results of the 2024 election if he thought the contest was fair.

“As long as localities actually follow election laws passed by the Legislature, yeah,” Donalds said, adding that he believed that had not been the case in 2020, when he took a leading role in Congress during the attempt to overturn the presidential contest.

“If the procedures are followed, I’m good,” Donalds said. “No funny business.”

Sen. JD Vance

Vance, an Ohio Republican believed to be on Trump’s vice presidential shortlist, did not respond to a request about whether he would accept the 2024 results. But he has said that unlike Vice President Mike Pence in 2020, he would have helped Trump overturn the results by accepting Trump electors that had not been elected by voters.

“If I had been vice president, I would have told the states — like Pennsylvania, Georgia and so many others — that we needed to have multiple slates of electors, and I think the U.S. Congress should have fought over it from there,” Vance told ABC News in February. “That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks, including me, think had a lot of problems in 2020.”

Other Republican candidates hoping to be Trump’s vice presidential pick, including Donalds, have expressed similar sentiments about whether they would certify an election they saw as problematic, but the question is likely moot.

In 2022, Congress passed an update to the Electoral Count Act that states that the vice president has no official authority in certifying the results.

Sam Brown, candidate for Senate in Nevada

Brown, a retired Army captain, is running to replace Sen. Jacky Rosen, the Democratic incumbent in Nevada. He has support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee but has not yet been able to secure an endorsement from Trump in the crowded Republican primary scheduled for June.

Last week, Brown responded to a questionnaire from The Las Vegas Review-Journal that asked candidates about election fraud and their willingness to accept the results of their own race in 2024. But he did not directly answer any of the questions.

According to the newspaper, Brown instead responded by raising doubts about election security. He did not provide any specific examples of what he viewed as the risks, and instead pointed to Democratic lawmakers in the state who, in 2020, “rammed through new laws that put ballots and election security at risk.”

“These last-minute changes caused many voters to lose confidence in our election systems,” Brown said.

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