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U.S. election: Trump won’t commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses to Biden

Click to play video 'Trump won’t commit to transfer of power if he loses election' Trump won’t commit to transfer of power if he loses election
WATCH: Trump won't commit to transfer of power if he loses election

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday again declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said at a news conference, responding to a question about whether he’d commit to a peaceful transfer of power. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Read more: U.S. election: Cindy McCain endorses Joe Biden in rebuke of Trump

Trump has been pressing a monthslong campaign against mail-in voting this November by tweeting and speaking out critically about the practice. More states are encouraging mail-in voting to keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Click to play video 'White House walks back Trump’s comments, says he will accept result of ‘free and fair’ election' White House walks back Trump’s comments, says he will accept result of ‘free and fair’ election
White House walks back Trump’s comments, says he will accept result of ‘free and fair’ election

The president, who uses mail-in voting himself, has tried to distinguish between states that automatically send mail ballots to all registered voters and those, like Florida, that send them only to voters who request a mail ballot.

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Trump has baselessly claimed widespread mail voting will lead to massive fraud. The five states that routinely send mail ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.

Click to play video 'White House reiterates Trump’s desire to eradicate mass mail-out ballots, says its subject to fraud' White House reiterates Trump’s desire to eradicate mass mail-out ballots, says its subject to fraud
White House reiterates Trump’s desire to eradicate mass mail-out ballots, says its subject to fraud

Trump on Wednesday appeared to suggest that if states got “rid of” the unsolicited mailing of ballots there would be no concern about fraud or peaceful transfers of power.

“You’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer frankly,” Trump said. “There’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control, you know it, and you know, who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

In a July interview, Trump similarly refused to commit to accepting the results, and he made similar comments ahead of the 2016 election.

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“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging July interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”

The Biden campaign responded Wednesday, as it did after Trump’s July comments: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”

It is highly unusual that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy’s electoral process. But Trump four years ago, when in the closing stages of his race against Hillary Clinton, also declined to commit to honoring the election results if the Democrat won.

When asked during an October 2016 debate about whether he would abide by the voters’ will, Trump responded that he would “keep you in suspense.”

Click to play video 'Trump says he ‘wishes a lot of luck’ to Prince Harry after Meghan Markle allegedly urges Americans to vote Biden' Trump says he ‘wishes a lot of luck’ to Prince Harry after Meghan Markle allegedly urges Americans to vote Biden
Trump says he ‘wishes a lot of luck’ to Prince Harry after Meghan Markle allegedly urges Americans to vote Biden

It’s unlikely that any chaos in states with universal mail-in voting will cause the election result to be inaccurately tabulated, as Trump has suggested.

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The five states that already have such balloting have had time to ramp up their systems, while four states newly adopting it — California, New Jersey, Nevada and Vermont — have not. Washington, D.C., is also newly adopting it.

Of those nine states, only Nevada is a battleground, worth six electoral votes and likely to be pivotal only in a national presidential deadlock.

Click to play video 'President Trump declines to commit to peaceful transfer of power if Biden wins November U.S. election' President Trump declines to commit to peaceful transfer of power if Biden wins November U.S. election
President Trump declines to commit to peaceful transfer of power if Biden wins November U.S. election

California, New Jersey, Vermont and D.C. are overwhelmingly Democratic and likely to be won by that party’s nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a tweet Wednesday evening, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said a peaceful transition of power is “fundamental to democracy.”

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“Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable,” he wrote.

–With files from Global News