President Donald Trump is for the first time publicly floating a “delay” to the Nov. 3 presidential election, as he alleges that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud.
The date of the presidential election — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — is enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change, including agreement from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
The Constitution makes no provisions for a delay in the end of Trump’s term — noon on Jan. 20, 2021.
Trump tweeted Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
One Republican governor, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, quickly shot down Trump’s idea: “Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story. Our voting system in NH is secure, safe, and reliable. We have done it right 100% of the time for 100 years — this year will be no different.”
Hogan Gidley, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, pointed to the delays in counting votes in New York’s primary.
“The President is just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting,” he said.
“They are using coronavirus as their means to try to institute universal mail-in voting, which means sending every registered voter a ballot whether they asked for one or not. “
Trump has increasingly sought to cast doubt on the expected surge in mail-in and absentee voting as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
And Trump has called remote voting options the “biggest risk” to his re-election.
Trump refused in an interview just weeks ago with Fox News to commit to accept the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling similar comments he made weeks before the 2016 vote.
“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“No, I’m not going to just say ‘yes.’ I’m not going to say ‘no,’ and I didn’t last time, either.”
Trump and many members of his administration have previously availed themselves of absentee voting, but Trump has sought to differentiate that from a growing push by states to mail all registered voters either ballots or absentee request forms.
Most states are still finalizing their plans for November, although California has announced plans to send ballots to all registered voters for the fall election along with having in-person voting options available.
A small number of states also sent ballots to voters during the primaries, but most states are not expected to do so in November. Instead, voters will have to request an absentee ballot if they want to vote at home.
Voters and public health officials have expressed concerns about the potential dangers for spreading the virus during in-person voting, and states have reported difficulty filling poll worker positions given the pandemic.
“He has absolutely no power to do this,” Wendy Weiser, director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School, said of Trump’s ability to push back the election. “And Congress is not going to vote to change the statute that has governed for decades and decades when and how we hold elections. This is just sowing chaos.”
Last month, Trump told supporters in Arizona: “This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country.”
There appears to be next-to-no appetite in the Capitol for a change to the Nov. 3 election.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied to Trump’s tweet by tweeting a quote from the Constitution assigning Congress the power to set the timing of elections.
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states:
“The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.” https://t.co/NIaa7mQVnn
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 30, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not respond to questions about Trump’s tweet on the way to the Senate floor Thursday morning.
Just months ago, in April, Trump had ruled out the prospect of trying to change the election.
“I never even thought of changing the date of the election,” he said. “Why would I do that? November 3rd. It’s a good number. No, I look forward to that election.”
“I’m not thinking about it at all,” he added. “Not at all.”
And in March, Trump opposed moves by several states to delay their presidential primaries because of the coronavirus.
Attorney General William Barr, speaking to a House committee earlier this week, claimed there was “a high risk” that mail-in voting would lead to “massive” fraud.
He said he had no “reason to think” the upcoming election would be rigged. But he said he believed “if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.”
Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond asked Barr at the hearing whether a sitting U.S. president could move the election date.
Barr responded: “Actually, I haven’t looked into that question under the Constitution.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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