President Trump on Thursday suggested a “delay” to the November election, claiming a shift to mail-in voting would make it the most “fraudulent election in history.”
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Trump does not have the authority to delay the election. Congress sets the dates of federal elections, and the Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the Jan. 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.
Still, Democratic challenger Joe Biden warned back in April that Trump might try to delay the Nov. 3 general, saying, “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.”
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???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
Trump’s tweet came on the heels of an extraordinarily negative economic report that showed the U.S. economy contracted at a staggering 32.9% annual rate in the second quarter, the worst drop on record, as the pandemic forced businesses to shutter and left tens of millions of people out of work.
Trump previously dismissed the idea he would delay the election as the coronavirus rages. But his new line of questioning Thursday comes as the president looks to right the ship of his campaign as he trails Biden in national and battleground state polls.
The president also leveled fresh attacks against mail balloting in his tweets Thursday, claiming in an earlier post that, “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!”
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail balloting, even in states with all-mail voting, though Trump has repeatedly tried to sow doubt on the issue.
Trump’s suggestion to delay the election drew rebukes from Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.
Baker said during a press conference Thursday that it’s “critically important” the contests go forward.
“We’ve had elections in the midst of World Wars. We’ve had elections in the midst of the Civil War. We’ve had elections at many times in this country during terrible, awful circumstances,” Baker said, noting elections have continued in Massachusetts despite the pandemic. “Elections need to happen and there’s no reason why this one can’t happen when it’s supposed to happen in September and November.”
Sununu quickly shot down Trump’s idea, saying, “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% of the time for 100 years – this year will be no different.”
Trump’s tweet also drew swift condemnation from members of the Democratic Massachusetts congressional delegation.
“We will not sacrifice our democracy to Donald Trump’s dictator dreams,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III tweeted.
We will not sacrifice our democracy to Donald Trump’s dictator dreams.
— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 30, 2020
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey tweeted, “We cannot and will not let this authoritarian criminal delay our election, undermine our democracy, and silence the American people.”
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted a video in which she called on the “heads of Justice, Defense, Homeland Security and Interior to not allow their departments to be turned into Trump’s own personal militia—especially in the event Trump loses the election in November and refuses to leave office peacefully.”
Hogan Gidley, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, said the president was “just raising a question” after 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,” Gidley said. “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.”
— Erin Tiernan and Herald wire services contributed