The resulting turmoil could surpass the contention over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, confounding the legal system, Congress and the public’s faith in how the country picks its leaders. Such a crisis could also have long-lasting consequences for a nation that has already been rocked this year by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic collapse and a reckoning over racial injustice.

Trump’s attacks on mail voting are turning Republicans off absentee ballots

Among the possibilities: Trump could claim victory before the vote in key states is fully counted — a process that could take days or even weeks this year because of the expected avalanche of absentee ballots.

He could also spend weeks refusing to concede amid a legal war over which votes are valid and should be included in the tally, according to legal and constitutional experts who are tracking Trump’s statements.

Or he could simply refuse to leave on Jan. 20 — a possibility Biden has discussed publicly.