Donald Trump has suggested November’s presidential election be postponed, saying increased postal voting could lead to fraud and inaccurate results.
He floated a delay until people could “properly, securely and safely” vote.
There is little evidence to support Mr Trump’s claims but he has long railed against mail-in voting which he has said would be susceptible to fraud.
In a series of tweets, Mr Trump said “universal mail-in voting” would make November’s vote the “most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history” and a “great embarrassment to the USA”.
US states want to make postal voting easier due to public health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the US constitution, Mr Trump does not have the authority to postpone the election himself. Any delay would have to be approved by Congress. The president does not have direct power over the two houses of Congress.
In June, New York allowed voters to vote by post in the Democratic primary poll for the party’s presidential candidate. But there have been long delays in counting the ballots and the results are still unknown.
US media report that there are also concerns that many ballots will not be counted because they were not filled in correctly or do not have postmarks on them that show they were sent before voting officially ended.
However, several other states have long conducted votes by post.
Mr Trump appears to be doing everything in his power to undermine the credibility of November’s vote, in which a record number of Americans are predicted to rely on mail-in voting to avoid the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. He’s repeatedly made false and misleading claims about the reliability of the mail balloting and suggested broad conspiracy theories. Critics warn that he could be laying the groundwork for contesting the results – although the purpose may be simply to give him a scapegoat if he loses.
His tweet could also be an attempt to divert attention away from the truly dismal second-quarter economic numbers just released. He’s been relying on a financial turnaround to breathe life into his re-election campaign, and instead the outlook appears exceedingly gloomy.
Whatever the reason, tweeting about an election delay is not the move of a candidate confident of victory – and could be a sign of more desperate moves to come.
Donald Trump can’t delay November’s presidential election without Congress, partially controlled by the Democrats, first approving the decision. If he didn’t already know this, someone has certainly told him by now.
Quizzed by reporters on whether a president could delay the election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would not “enter a legal judgement on the fly”. When pressed, he said the justice department would “make that legal determination”, adding “we want an election that everyone is confident in”.
Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the US Federal Election Commission, said Mr Trump did not have the power to move the election – and added: “Nor should it be moved.” She called for more funding for states to be able to run “the safe and secure elections all Americans want”.
Numerous Republicans – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – also dismissed 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,” Mr McCarthy said. Trump ally Senator Lindsay Graham meanwhile said a delay was “not a good idea”.
Any change of date would need to be approved by the two houses of Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate. Democrats control the House of Representatives and some have already said they will not support any delay to the vote.
- Biden signs executive orders on food aid and worker protections - January 28, 2021
- Three Rafale jets arrive in India after flying non-stop from France - January 28, 2021
- Supreme Court stays Bombay HC order on ‘skin-to-skin’ contact for sexual assault under POCSO Act - January 28, 2021