Democratic state attorneys general strategized among themselves on what to do if the president refuses to accept the result and said they were most concerned that his drumbeat of unfounded accusations about fraud could undermine public confidence in the election…

“For the first time in my life, and maybe for the first time since the Civil War, the fate of constitutional democracy in the United States is on the line, and it’s on the line because the president has put it there,” said William A. Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program. “It is a clear and present danger.”

State election officials said they are alarmed by the president’s rhetoric.

“Categorically and emphatically, when you have public officials casting doubt on the process, it’s incredibly corrosive,” said Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat. “I cannot describe that with enough vehemence. It’s nearly a criminal or treasonous act. We hold a sacred trust, and it is our job to make people feel like they’re protected in their decision-making, as the authors of our future.”