By Cecilia Markley
Pennsylvania voter Dino Damico has been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump throughout his presidential term. Damico maintains his belief that Trump won the election nearly a month after the election has been called for President-elect Joe Biden and as states continue to certify election results.
Damico said that he voted for Trump in the 2020 election mainly because of Trump’s handling of the economy.
“I believe he’s the best president we’ve ever had in this country, and I believe he was deserving of another four years to continue to do what he had started…” Damico said in a phone interview. “Everything that that man did, I believe, was to make America great again.”
Damico said he thinks the election was corrupt and doesn’t believe in the results.
“I don’t believe that Joe Biden got more votes than Barack Obama,” Damico said. “There’s nothing that would tell me that Joe Biden, campaigning from his basement 95% of the time, incited the euphoria of the Democratic party to go out and vote for him to the tune of 75 million people. You’ll never have me believe that. I believe that the whole mail-in ballot thing was nothing more than a ploy and a scheme by the Democratic party to somehow steal the election off Donald Trump and the American people.”
Damico is not alone in his beliefs. While the election was called for Biden by many major news outlets on Nov. 7, including the AP, ABC, NBC and Fox News, Trump has yet to formally concede. Not only has he refused to concede, but he has mounted a significant legal effort to fight the results of the election in several key states.
Trump has filed more than 30 lawsuits in key states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona, and has continued to tweet unproven claims about fraudulent votes being cast in these states.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Nov. 27 rejected Trump’s effort to challenge the result of Biden being declared the winner of Pennsylvania. The opinion was written by Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee.
“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” the Court’s decision said. “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
This came just three days after the Pennsylvania Department of State certified its results for the presidential election on Nov. 24, when Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar certified the results and Governor Tom Wolf signed the certificate, thus formalizing Biden as the winner of the state’s 20 electoral votes.
The president’s ongoing refusal to concede has caused some of his supporters nationwide to deny the results and to claim, as the president has, that there was widespread voter fraud and the election was rigged by Democrats and nefarious actors. Many of these claims lack evidence or have been debunked. But belief in these claims and suspicion about the results remains strong among many Trump supporters.
Damico is among these supporters, believing Democrats must have committed voter fraud for Biden to get as many votes as he did.
And like many Trump supporters, Damico still believes Trump will prevail.
“I don’t think Trump ever lost,” Damico said. “Almost 74 million people voted for Donald J. Trump, and none of those votes were fraudulent or corrupt. None of them. I think every one of those votes were people that literally went to the polls or sent in a mail-in ballot.”
But not every Trump voter feels this way. Those like Professor Jerome Foss of Westmoreland County acknowledge the results as fair.
Foss said he voted for Trump in 2020 primarily because of his support for the president’s pro-life policies and judicial appointments.
Despite voting for Trump, Foss accepts the election results.
“I think Biden won the election,” Foss said in an interview over Zoom.
Beyond this, Foss voiced concern with Trump’s unwillingness thus far to formally concede.
“Even though there’s a lot of policies that Trump supports that I think are great… his character has always been such that I worry about him,” Foss said. “He’s got all of the tendencies of a demagogue, and he knows how to lead people to do things he wants them to do, and he knows how to use the media to his advantage in this regard.”
When asked if he believed people voted illegally, Foss said he didn’t believe fraud existed on a large enough scale to change the outcome of the election.
“I wouldn’t pretend that there wasn’t any kind of fraud going on, and I think the fact that there’s so many mail-in ballots is a reason to question some of the votes and something we have to be careful about in the future,” Foss said. “But I don’t think that there was evidence of fraud to the extent that it would change the outcome of the election.”
Foss is in the minority among Trump voters. Just 29% of Republicans believe Biden “rightfully” won the election, while 52% believe Trump did, according to a Reuters/IPSOS poll.
Among those who believe Trump rightfully won is Dina DeCesare of Westmoreland County, who voted for the president.
“I voted for Donald Trump because, number one, he is not a politician,” DeCesare said in a phone interview. “Number two, basically, what he said he was going to do, he did, so he stands by his word. And the other thing that I really like about him is that he is not taking a pay.”
DeCesare said that the election was stolen from Trump and he should remain in office, adding that those who attempted to steal the election need to be brought to justice.
“This whole election has been stolen,” DeCesare said. “With all of the information that is coming out now, with all the evidence, I just don’t understand how Biden pulled that off. And I was at many of the [Trump] rallies, and the rallies that I have been to, thousands upon thousands of people were there. All over the United States this goes for. And then you have Biden, who, his rallies, there were just a couple hundred people, and he basically was in the basement the entire summer.”
DeCesare said the Trump campaign is providing “mounds of evidence” when asked what Trump and his supporters need to do to keep the president in office.
“I think [the election results] should just be overturned, that’s what I think,” DeCesare said. “I mean, obviously [Trump’s] numbers were higher, always, than Biden’s.”
DeCesare said she believed people were unfairly taking away votes from thousands of people who wanted Trump to win.
“It’s not right, Trump should still be in there,” DeCesare said. “Listen, if Biden won fair and square, great, then we need to move on with Biden as our president, but that didn’t happen.”
Despite DeCesare and Damico’s claims of voter fraud and a stolen election, there is no evidence of systemic voter fraud in the 2020 election in any state nationwide. Any irregularities in the election process were minor, and none were significant enough in any state to overturn enough votes to flip the state from Biden to Trump.
In Pennsylvania specifically, courts have concluded in each case brought by the Trump campaign that there is not sufficient evidence of voter fraud or corruption. As of Nov. 24, when the state certified its results, Biden led Trump by over 80,000 votes, meaning at least that many votes would need to be thrown out for Trump to overturn the results in Pennsylvania and give Trump the state’s 20 electoral votes. This still would not give him the margin he needs to overtake Biden’s lead in the electoral college, which sits at 306 votes for Biden and 232 for Trump.
Nonetheless, Trump voter John Koury believes there were many irregularities in the 2020 election. However, he is not as certain as Damico or DeCesare that Trump will end up winning the election.
The Westmoreland County resident said he voted for Trump primarily for economic purposes, but also because he thought Trump stood up for the Constitution, helped veterans and enacted criminal justice reform.
“I voted for Trump mainly because I think he has a track record over the last four years of helping what I call the ‘forgotten men and women of the country,’ who I think the previous administrations, both Republican and Democrat, going back probably 16 years, did not do a satisfactory job at trying to promote economics,” Koury said in a phone interview. “As well as some cultural things that benefited what I guess I would call the ‘common man,’ the middle class.”
Koury said he supported specific economic actions taken by the Trump administration on trade deals, tax cuts and elimination of bureaucracy and regulations.
Koury said he was concerned about the election for months because of the large numbers of mail-in ballots unique to this election but that he understood why states wanted to give voters the option of mail-in voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he said that he has voted by mail before and knows that Pennsylvania voters must apply for a mail-in ballot and verify identify before receiving the ballot.
“Whereas in this case, what [election officials] were doing is they were just mass mailing out mail-in ballots to hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom had moved, no longer lived at that address,” Koury said. “The voter rolls were not kept up to date, and so people who had passed [away] were still on the voter rolls, so those ballots all went out, and it’s not hard to believe that those ballots could fall into people’s hands that could take them and fill them out and send them in.”
Koury said he didn’t believe the election was fully secure due to the mass amount of mail-in ballots.
“We have people who are dead where ballots are returned under their name,” Koury said. “We have people in certain counties where there are more votes in that particular county than there are registered voters in that county, by thousands and thousands.”
In fact, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a sub-agency of the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement on Nov. 12 calling the Nov. 3 election the most secure in American history.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the statement said.
While he didn’t believe the election was secure, Koury said he couldn’t definitively say whether Trump or Biden had won the election and was waiting to see the results of the lawsuits currently being filed by Trump’s legal team.
“I can believe the election results were tainted sufficiently to cause Trump to be identified as the loser when he actually won, and I believe that election results might be there that prove that Biden did get all the votes that he got, but I would like to have that go through the courts…” Koury said.
Koury’s view of how the election was handled aligns with the majority of Trump voters, according to a Pew Poll, which says that just 21% of Trump voters believe the elections were run and administered well, compared to 59% of American voters in general.
Trump voters have maintained a variety of perspectives on the process and outcome of the election in the weeks since it ended. While some are accepting Biden as president-elect, others are questioning the process that led to these results, and still some are outright denying he won.
When asked who he thinks will be president on Jan. 20, Damico gave a revealing answer.
“I’m a Trump supporter, and until I hear him stand up in front of the cameras and concede, I think Trump’s going to be our president.”