United States President Donald Trump is suggesting that November’s general election be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and his claims that postal voting could lead to fraud.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump said on Twitter.
“It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
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“The [Democrats] talk of foreign influence in voting, but they know that Mail-In Voting is an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race,” he said.
His comments come as the latest public polling of the 2020 race shows him continuing to trail his opponent Joe Biden by significant margins.
Ahead of the U.S. general election which is less than 100 days away, the majority of states are planning a mix of mail and in-person voting. Reports say a huge number of Americans are predicted to rely on mail-in voting due to public health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Several states are also expanding existing absentee voting programs to enable people to vote more safely, according to NBC News.
But critics of postal voting claim that people could vote more than once via absentee ballots and in person. Trump had said previously that there was a risk of “thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place”.
However, studies over the years say there is “no evidence of widespread fraud,” and several states have voted by post in the past.
Now could Trump delay November’s presidential election?
Experts say though states can delay their primary elections, only Congress can change the date for the general election under the Constitution.
The date for the presidential election has been set in law by Congress since 1845 as Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It’s also not possible for the general election to be delayed due to a public health emergency as Trump is suggesting.
“Even if Congress did agree to change the date of the general election, Trump’s term would still expire in accordance with the 20th Amendment of the Constitution,” a report by NBC News said.
The report adds that even before his term expires on January 20, states would have to choose their electors for the Electoral College, who would then have to meet and choose the president. Congress would then count the electoral college votes.
“All of that has to happen by January 20,” Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told NBC News. “That is why Congress will not delay the election even a week or two, because the timeline is pretty tight.”
As the coronavirus outbreak worsened in the U.S. in recent months, Democratic officials warned that Trump may attack the democratic process by trying to kick back the election and come up with reasons why it can’t be held. But Trump denied such claims.
“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.”