Sunday, May 19, 2024

Tens of millions of Americans choose not to vote in each presidential election. The U.S. Postal Service is experiencing a service backlog that threatens mail-in ballot delivery. President Donald Trump sent a tweet last week pondering a first-in-history delay of a U.S. election – which received quick, broad bipartisan pushback – and has used federal forces to disrupt peaceful protests from Lafayette Square directly in front of the White House to Portland, Oregon. He has shown clear authoritarian tendencies throughout his time in office. It is not unimaginable that if Trump loses the election he will use the powers of the presidency to try to hold onto power.

Comedian and political satirist Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” has been ridiculed over the past years for asking “What if Trump refuses to leave?” He is now being taken seriously.

While I am no attorney nor remotely an expert on election law, procedure or regulations, I do know elections are run by the states. Have Massachusetts (or any state) officials gamed out what they would do if Trump refuses to accept election results or unilaterally deems them invalid? The Pentagon regularly runs military games for preparedness reasons. Is our state government doing the same to be prepared for this contingency?

The pandemic has shown local, state and national governments were unprepared to handle a worldwide public health crisis, with a dearth of expertise that cost thousands of lives.

It is up to our state legislators to ask these uncomfortable questions and to demand we be prepared for any scenario. The national election is just 90 days away, and we must ask: Are we as unprepared for the election as we were for Covid-19?

Emmanuel “Manny” Lusardi is an East Cambridge resident, longtime immigrant advocate and former liaison for immigrant affairs to the Cambridge Mayor’s office.