Politics

Trump floats election delay, claims voter fraud risks amid virus

President Trump sends tweet suggesting US presidential election should be delayed as states plan to use mail-in ballots

United States President Donald Trump on Thursday raised for the first time the possibility of delaying the US November presidential election.

Trump raised the question of a delay on Twitter and without evidence claimed risks of mail-in voter fraud.

Trump tweeted on 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???” 

Trump has made repeated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud. Many US states and localities are moving to use mail ballots to prevent risks of coronavirus infection.

The dates of federal elections are set by Congress which is unlikely to act, and the US Constitution makes no provisions for a delay of the January 20, 2021 inauguration of the next president. 

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 percent 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. 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 November’s election and 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 reelection. His campaign and the Republican Party have sued to combat the practice, which was once a significant advantage for the GOP.

Trump refused in an interview just weeks ago with Fox News to commit to accept the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat 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.

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.

Trump’s stated concern for poll safety defies his otherwise aggressive push to “reopen” the nation from partial shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the virus, even as rising confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have pushed the US to the top of the list for the world outbreak.

“He has absolutely no power to do this,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s Law School. “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 that “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.

Democrats have pushed to include billions of dollars in the next coronavirus relief bill to fund election security and accessibility improvements for this year’s vote, but Trump and Republicans have so far resisted those efforts.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not respond to questions about Trump’s tweet on the way to the Senate floor Thursday morning.

 

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