Whatever you think of Donald Trump not promising to immediately accept the election result, don’t believe anyone who says challenging the result would be unprecedented. Donald Trump is not the first candidate to say a presidential election was “rigged.”

People were up in even more of a lather in previous elections. Four times in the history of the United States, it wasn’t the voters, or even presidential electors, that chose the president. Rather, it was a separate branch of government. I write about these in my book, “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.”

In the nation’s history, four candidates who lost the popular vote became president, but there was by no means anything illegal about it. The Electoral College decides the presidency, not the popular vote. Until the Constitution is amended, it will remain that way. There is an effort among some states to undermine the Electoral College by agreeing to have their electors vote for whoever won the national popular vote. While this might not honor the wishes of the voters in their own state, state legislatures have the right to apportion electors however they wish. Other states have debated proportional awarding of electoral votes—as Maine and Nebraska already have. But again, it’s up to the states.

It should be noted that of the four presidents to emerge from these odd situations—Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes and George W. Bush—there were no claims that Jefferson was selected rather than elected.

For most, 2000 is the frame of reference. But a majority was able to accept the Supreme Court’s verdict in Bush v. Gore, even though many Democrats take it as an article of faith they were robbed in Florida. But other examples are more profound. Two elections could have led to war.

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