In recent weeks, Mr. Sanders has privately spoken with experts, including Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and a co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan group of former government officials, political professionals and journalists that has gamed out election scenarios. The senator said he had also spoken to the Biden campaign about these issues.
In the interview, Mr. Sanders laid out a series of steps to prevent Mr. Trump from corrupting the election, including urging states to count mail-in ballots “as rapidly as they can” and encouraging them to begin processing and counting ballots before Election Day. (Rules on when states can begin counting vary across the country.)
“If you are starting from zero on election night, and you’ve got hundreds of thousands or millions of absentee ballots, how long is that going to take you to count?” Mr. Sanders said. “It will take a very long time. And that will allow the fomenting of conspiracy theories and so-called fraud and everything else.”
Mr. Sanders also said he would encourage social media companies to stop people from using their platforms to spread disinformation and threaten election officials. And he said he had requested bipartisan hearings in the Senate with secretaries of state as well as law enforcement and election officials “to tell us how they are going to handle Election Day and the days that follow.”
“The American people have got to be prepared for this,” he added. “It is absolutely essential that they are.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the campaign trail in March, Mr. Sanders has delivered addresses and held round-table events via livestream, using the infrastructure he built up during his campaign. Aside from his activities in the Senate, Mr. Sanders has not made any public appearances in person since the last Democratic presidential debate, on March 15.
Until recently, most of his focus has been on the pandemic. But as he has grown increasingly fearful that Mr. Trump could sabotage the election, aides said, he has shifted some of his focus to figuring out what to do if the president tries to hold onto power illegitimately. This month, Mr. Sanders sent a lengthy email to his supporters warning them “about Trump’s threat to our constitutionally enshrined system of the peaceful transition of power.”