President Donald Trump on Thursday raised the idea of delaying the Nov. 3 U.S. elections, an idea immediately rejected by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in Congress – the sole branch of government with the authority to make such a change.
Critics and even Trump’s allies dismissed the notion as unserious and simply an attempt to distract from devastating economic news.
Trump’s statement on Twitter comes as the United States is enduring the greatest crises of a generation: a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 150,000 lives, a crippling recession sparked by the outbreak and nationwide protests against police violence and racism. On Thursday morning, the government reported the worst U.S. economic contraction since the Great Depression.
Trump, who opinion polls show losing ground to and trailing Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden, also said he would not trust the results of an election that included widespread mail voting – a measure that many observers see as critical given the coronavirus pandemic. Without evidence, he claimed that mail voting would be rife with fraud.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
The U.S. economy contracted by 32.9% in the second quarter, as the fast-spreading coronavirus sparked widespread lockdowns.
The United States has held elections for more than 200 years, including during the Civil War, the Great Depression and two world wars. Article II of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to set the timing of elections, and the 20th Amendment ends a president and vice president’s term in office on the Jan. 20 following a general election.
Multiple congressional Republicans – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top House of Representatives Republican Kevin McCarthy – rejected the idea.
“Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” said McCarthy. Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said, “Delaying the election probably wouldn’t be a good idea.”
Democratic U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House committee overseeing election security, rejected any delay. [Continue reading…]