Trump suggests DELAYING election until votes are ‘secure’


President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested delaying the November election until ‘people can properly, securely and safely vote.’

But Trump does not have the power to delay the election. That would take an act of Congress, which is highly unlikely to happen.

Trump’s pronouncement, however, came right after news the U.S. economy shrank by 33 per cent in the April-June quarter. That number marks the worst quarterly plunge ever and comes as the coronavirus pandemic has shut down businesses, thrown tens of millions out of work and sent unemployment to 14.7 per cent.

Trump tied his suggested to delaying the election to his complaints about mail-in voting, which he has repeatedly complained will lead to vote fraud. Numerous studies have shown very little voter fraud in the United States via mail-in voting. 

‘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 tweeted.

President Donald Trump suggested delaying the November election until ‘people can properly, securely and safely vote’

Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming immediately shot down Trump’s idea of an election delay.

‘No, we’re not going to delay the election,’ he said on Fox Business Thursday morning. ‘We’re going to have the election completed and voting completed by election day. It’s going to take a while to get all the votes counted.’

Attorney General Bill Barr was asked at a Tuesday hearing on Capitol Hill if the president has the power to delay November’s contest.

‘Actually I haven’t looked into that question under the Constitution. I’ve never been asked the question before, I’ve never looked into it,’ he said. 

Barr also said he had ‘no reason to think’ that the upcoming election will be ‘rigged.’ 

The date of general election is statutorily set as ‘the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November’ or ‘the first Tuesday after November 1,’ according to the 1845 law passed by Congress. Only new legislation could change that date. 

WHO DOES DECIDE WHEN U.S. VOTES? 

The White House has little to no say in the timing of the election – it has already been set down by Congress . 

The Constitution sets a limit on the president’s term of January 20 and puts the responsibility for choosing a new one on the Electoral College – made up of the states’ electors. 

It then spells out that Congress has to pick the date for choosing the electors, which must be the same across the country.

Initially states did not all choose the electors by popular vote, but as they did, and with the advent of instant communication in the form of the telegraph, it became clear there had to be a national election date. 

In 1845, Congress set the date of the presidential election itself for the first time, as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. 

It has not been changed since, and would need an act of Congress to change it. Given the Democrats’ hold on the House that seems impossible.

But there is some room for the White House to pressure states to put off elections for a few weeks.

The constitutional requirement that they choose their electors does not set a date – but in 1948 Congress did, as ‘the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December.’

In theory, states could delay their elections to closer to that date – but that would take the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis and appears highly unlikely to happen.

Additionally, Article II of the Constitution declares Congress – in effect – sets the election date: ‘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.’ 

But Trump’s tweet could stoke fears already present among Democrats the president will use his executive powers – such as declaring martial law – to suppress voter turn out in Democratic areas such as big cities. 

Polls show presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading in national polls and in many of the battleground states that will decide the contest.

Biden has warned that Trump could seek to nullify and try to delegitimize November’s contest should he lose. 

‘Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,’ Biden said at a virtual fundraiser in April. 

And Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called Trump’s decision to send in federal forces to U.S. cities with demonstrations taking place in support of the Black Lives Matters movement is a ‘dry run for martial law.’

Durkan said President Trump, ‘clearly targeted cities run by Democratic mayors. He’s said so himself.’

‘He’s using law enforcement as a political tool,’ she told CNN earlier this week. ‘I hate to say it, but I really believe that we are seeing the dry run for martial law. This is a president that is using law enforcement and federal forces for political purposes and that should be chilling to every American.’ 

Trump also suggested Thursday that mail-in voting would allow foreign interference in the election. 

‘Mail-In Voting is already proving to be a catastrophic disaster. Even testing areas are way off. The Dems talk of foreign influence in voting, but they know that Mail-In Voting is an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race. Even beyond that, there’s no accurate count!,’ he tweeted. 

Many states have opted to expand mail-in voting options for November’s contest because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has railed against these decisions and the Republican Party has created a $20 million legal fund to fight them.

The president, who is a resident of Florida, has voted absentee in several elections, including the state’s presidential primary earlier this year. Vice President Mike Pence and several other members of his administration have also voted absentee.

But Trump argues voting absentee is different than wide-spread mail-in voting. 

He has attacked mail voting nearly 70 times since late March in interviews, remarks and tweets, including at least 17 times this month, according to a tally by The Washington Post. 

Attorney General Bill Barr said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday he had 'no reason to think' that the upcoming election will be 'rigged'

Attorney General Bill Barr said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday he had ‘no reason to think’ that the upcoming election will be ‘rigged’

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has warned President Trump could try to delay the November contest

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has warned President Trump could try to delay the November contest

Polls have shown most Americans – including Republicans – favor absentee voting as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

In the event of extenuating circumstances, like traveling for work during the time of an election or being bed-ridden, voters in most states can apply for absentee ballots to cast their vote by mail ahead of the election date.

There are five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – that already hold their elections by mail-in voting.

Long lines have plagued several states during their primary elections the past few months. The number of polling places have been limited because of a shortage of workers due to the virus. Social distancing measures also mean the voting process takes longer.

In Georgia’s June primary, voters waited in line for hours without being able to cast a ballot as a shortage of poll workers and social-distancing precautions caused by the coronavirus contributed to the problem. Some precincts were closed due to lack of election officials available to work and official limited the number of people allowed into the ones open to prevent the virus from spreading.

Voters took to Twitter to post photos of the long lines and point out the polling places that hadn’t opened as scheduled at 7 a.m.  Technical issues with the new voting system – which combines touchscreens with scanned paper ballots in races for president, Senate and dozens of other contests – brought voting to a stand still.

Voters wait in line in Fulton County in Georgia's primary election on Tuesday

Voters wait in line in Fulton County in Georgia’s primary election on Tuesday

In May President Trump threatened to hold federal funds from states like Michigan, which was mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters. 

Trump has also criticized California’s mail-in balloting initiative, where registered voters have been sent ballots without having to formally request one. 

Republicans have filed a lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsome’s move. 

Republicans long have been suspicious that making voting easier would elect more Democrats. Young people, for instance, tend to tilt more Democratic, but are also less likely to vote in-person. 

Additionally, Republicans have long complained about ‘ballot harvesting’ – their term for the process where someone (usually a party volunteer) collects absentee ballots from a group of people and mails them for them. Democrats call it ballot collecting.

In two-thirds of the states, any qualified voter may vote absentee without offering an excuse, and in one-third of the states, an excuse is required, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But many states – including West Virginia and Virginia – are adding fear of the coronavirus as a valid excuse to request an absentee ballot. 

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