With US President Donald Trump claiming "fraud" in the counting of votes and threatening to go to the Supreme Court, a human rights organisation on Wednesday said America's electoral process needs time to tabulate the votes cast in the general election and asserted that "politicians don't decide who wins".
As the 2020 US presidential race inches close to a nail-biting finish, human rights organisation Human Rights Watch, in a statement, said the United States' electoral process needs time to tabulate the vote in the November 3 general election and cautioned that news organisations and social media companies should be vigilant in preventing their platforms from being used to disseminate inaccurate election-related information, while respecting freedom of expression.
"Millions of US voters turned out to cast their ballots in recent weeks and during a day of largely trouble-free voting," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the Human Rights Watch. "Politicians don't decide who wins. Election officials are carrying out an impartial and transparent counting process so that the will of the people decides."
The unprecedented increase in mail-in ballots because of the COVID-19 pandemic added to the normal delays in the tallying of votes, with the results in key battleground states too early to call. Early Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that he had won the election and raised unsubstantiated and reckless allegations of fraud.
Trump called the election "a fraud on the American public" and said, "Frankly, we did win this election." He also said he planned to take the battle to the Supreme Court to stop the counting of votes.
"All of a sudden everything just stopped. This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election," Trump said, without citing any evidence of a fraud in the electoral process.
"We will win this, and as far as I am concerned, we already have won it," Trump, 74, said in remarks to his supporters in the White House East Room at 2 am on Wednesday. "Our goal now is to ensure integrity, for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation. We want law to be used in a proper manner. So we will be going to the US Supreme Court.
"We want all voting to stop. We do not want them to find any ballots at 4 o'clock in the morning and add them to the list," Trump said, amidst applause from his supporters.
The Human Rights Watch said social media platforms should take down, label or limit the spread of election-related disinformation and misinformation, in accordance with their content policies, while respecting freedom of expression. News organisations should be critical in their reporting on election-related disinformation and misinformation and provide necessary context, it added.
The organisation said governments and international organisations should be cautious in making any pronouncements about the outcome of the election until a clear winner is determined. "Foreign leaders and international human rights bodies should reaffirm that the institutional process of determining the winner of the US presidential election is ongoing and monitor the human rights situation in the country with a view to speaking out if necessary in support of the rights to vote, freedom of expression, and to peaceful assembly."
Roth said giving local election officials the time to ensure a rights-respecting ballot count is essential to democratic accountability and respect for human rights in the US. "Law enforcement needs to respect and protect peaceful demonstrations. And traditional and social media have a responsibility to counter voting disinformation and incitement on their platforms.
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