Nicola Sturgeon had sense of 'foreboding and discomfort' prior to Donald Trump's 'denial of basic democratic norms'

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on politicians to do more to ensure the integrity of elections is retained ahead of the 2021 Holyrood note-0 vote after Donald Trump employed conspiracy theories in an attempt to undermine the integrity of US polling.

Mr Trump is poised to fall in the race to the White House and become the first incumbent president to lose an attempt at re-election since George Bush in the 1992 election when he was defeated by Bill Clinton.

At the time of writing, Mr Biden had taken the lead from Mr Trump in both Georgia and the key state of Pennsylvania.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said contingency planning is underway ahead of a Covid-19 affected Holyrood election

The latter state is all the former vice-president requires to reach the winning milestone of 270 electoral college votes, with Pennsylvania’s 20 taking him to 273 in total.

Mr Biden is also still leading in the states of Nevada and Arizona, although the race is narrowing in the latter.

Such a tight race – already subject to such intense scrutiny amid baseless claims of fraud – is likely not to fully confirmed until next week once all votes, including postal votes, are counted in the key swing states.

Ms Sturgeon, speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing today, said she felt “foreboding and discomfort” ahead of Mr Trump’s speech where he lied and claimed, without any evidence, that Democratic candidate for the US presidency was trying to “steal the election”.

Reacting the morning after the incumbent president repeated a list of falsehoods and baseless claims in an attempt to undermine the election, Ms Sturgeon was asked whether she was confident Scottish institutions could see off the potential for similar conspiracy theories ahead of a Covid-19 impacted Scottish Parliament election in 2021.

Explaining the contingency planning underway for the Scottish election, the First Minister said more postal ballots and more social distancing were likely to be used at the polls.

She said: "There is contingency planning being done and it’s being done as far as possible on a cross-party basis, the legislative contingencies being taken forward just to make sure we are prepared for any eventuality come the time of the Scottish Parliament election in May.

"I have said repeatedly all along that I think it is vital that election happens. I have no reason to believe it will not happen.

"But the way in which it happens, depending on the spread of the virus, may be affected.

"There may be a need for greater postal voting. There will no doubt be practical considerations that returning officers will have to take into account if physical distancing is still in place, which at the moment I would certainly think we should assume it will be.”

Commenting on Mr Trump’s reaction to the likelihood he will lose the US presidential election, Ms Sturgeon said it was “vital” that all votes were counted and the outcome was respected in any democracy.

The First Minister added: “I had a sense of foreboding and discomfort of what appeared to be the denial of basic democratic norms.

"I think it is fair to say that was also my feeling when I watched his speech late last night.

"In any democracy, it is vital that votes are counted and the outcomes are respected.”

On Twitter, Ms Sturgeon added the seemingly inexorable slide towards a Biden presidency were a “wee break in the clouds” in a world that was a “dark place at times just now”.

Following the virtual summit of the British Irish Council, the First Minister said “nobody would be surprised” to hear who she would prefer to see in the White House and claimed the world was calling out for American leadership on Covid-19 and climate change.

She said: “I think America needs leadership that clearly, visibly and explicitly respects and upholds the tenets and the norms of democracy.”

Responding to a question at her daily briefing about Mr Trump’s peddling of conspiracy theories and the potential for misinformation and conspiracy theories affecting the Scottish Parliamentary election, Ms Sturgeon said Covid-19 had reminded the world that sometimes misinformation can cost lives.

She said: "This is a big challenge for all of us and lots of people have to be part of it, social media companies, law enforcement agencies, political parties, we all have to be part in making sure we have a healthy, vibrant democracy where we have a robust exchange of views, but we all have general agreement about the factual basis on which those discussions take place.

"The onus ultimately on all of us as individual politicians is to respect that ourselves.

“Misinformation when it is about things that don’t really matter might be one thing, but when you have got the ability to spread misinformation on something as important as a global pandemic, you really do see that in some circumstances, lives depend on that."

Mr Trump on Thursday night alleged he was the victim of interference from “phoney polls” as well as “big media, big money and big tech” and the Republicans took court action in attempts to improve his chances of victory.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily won – if you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” Mr Trump said. Multiple major US television networks cut away from the speech before it was finished. Mr Trump has provided no evidence to support his claims.

Earlier Mr Biden had used a measured tone to say “democracy is sometimes messy, it sometimes requires a little patience”. He said he had “no doubt” he would eventually be declared the winner.

The Trump campaign has requested a recount in Wisconsin and filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, with the secretary of state of Georgia indicating there will be a recount in that state.

Judges in Michigan and Georgia have dismissed the actions launched by the Trump campaign, but additional legal action is also expected in Nevada, the campaign indicated.

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