Donald Trump suggests presidential election could be rigged


Trump warns general election could be 'rigged'

Donald Trump has said he fears the presidential election "is going to be rigged" - an unprecedented assertion by a modern White House candidate.

The Republican nominee's extraordinary claim - which, FYI, he didn't back up with any immediate evidence - would seem to threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.

"I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest," the Republican nominee told a town hall crowd in Columbus, Ohio.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump applauds after speaking during a town hall event
Donald Trump applauds after speaking during an Ohio town hall event (Evan Vucci/AP)

He added that he's been hearing "more and more" that the election may not be contested fairly. But he didn't elaborate further.

Trump made the claim after first suggesting that the Democrats had fixed their primary system so Hillary Clinton could defeat Bernie Sanders.

The billionaire tycoon has previously backed up that allegation by pointing to hacked emails from the national party - they appeared to indicate a preference for Clinton.

Still, the former secretary of state received 3.7 million more votes than Sanders nationwide. She had established a clear lead in delegates by March 1.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton received 3.7 million more votes than Bernie Sanders (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The celebrity businessman also claimed that the Republican nomination would have been stolen from him had he not won by significant margins.

He repeated the charge on Monday night on Fox News, saying: "November 8th, we'd better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it's going to be taken away from us."

The statement could be an effort by Trump to lay the groundwork of an excuse if he goes on to lose the election.

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer
Trump supporters cheer him on (Evan Vucci/AP)

But if he were to be defeated in November and then publicly declare that the election results were bogus, his claim could yield unpredictable reactions from his supporters and fellow Republicans.

Trump has not been shy about asserting that the electoral process has been "rigged".

It became a frequent catchphrase of during his primary campaign this spring, when forces allied with Republican rival Ted Cruz managed to pack state delegations with supporters of the Texas senator.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., addresses the delegates during the third day session
Ted Cruz addressing delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Trump also asserted that the Republican Party had changed the delegate allocation in the Florida primary to favour a native candidate, like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, at his expense.

In recent weeks, in an effort to woo angry Sanders supporters to his campaign, Trump has made the claim that the Democrats' process was also rigged.

On Monday night, Trump said Sanders "made a deal with the devil" and said of Mrs Clinton: "She's the devil".