Trump suggested the election should be delayed 'until people can properly, securely and safely vote'

President Donald Trump raised the notion of delaying the Nov. 3 election until after the coronavirus pandemic eases, something he cannot do without the consent of lawmakers who have already rejected the idea.

Trump suggested the election should be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote,” suggesting without offering evidence that mail-in voting will be subject to fraud. The president’s tweet comes as his poll numbers continue to sink against rival Joe Biden, who is leading nationally and in battleground states.

“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. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The Trump campaign quickly began to offer explanations for the president’s remark. Spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement that the president was “just raising a question” about Democratic efforts to expand vote-by-mail during the pandemic, which he claimed would lead to “chaos and severe delays with results.”

Many states have expanded mail-in and absentee voting options for primaries and the November election as the coronavirus prompts concerns for poll workers and for voters. Trump has used this movement to complain that the election would somehow be “rigged” and favor Democrats. Studies show neither party has an advantage based on whether people cast their ballots by mail or in person.

Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgrend, who chairs the House committee that oversees federal elections, rejected the idea outright.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections, and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the president’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic,” she said in a statement.

Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger tweeted that he would “oppose any attempts to delay the #2020Election.”

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simply tweeted the language in the U.S. Constitution defining Congress as the sole authority in setting election.

Trump’s tweet came minutes after the Commerce Department reported the economy shrank at a record 32.9% pace in the second quarter and Labor Department figures showed increasing numbers of Americans claiming state unemployment benefits.

The dollar dropped briefly following the Trump tweet, with the U.S. currency hitting its low for the day against the euro and falling against the yen. U.S. stock futures and yields on 10-year Treasuries also touched session lows.

Polls show Trump losing voters’ faith in his stewardship of the economy, which until this summer was the one policy area in which he led Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Biden predicted in April that Trump might seek to delay the election.

Trump responded to Biden’s suggestion by telling reporters at the White House that “I never even thought of changing the date of the election. Why would I do that? November 3rd. It’s a good number. No, I look forward to that election.”

And Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh called Biden’s claim “the incoherent, conspiracy theory ramblings of a lost candidate who is out of touch with reality.”

Trump currently trails Biden by 8 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, as well as in averages of polls in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Trump’s tweet also misstates some key facts about vote-by-mail. Although terminology differs state by state, there is no difference between mail-in voting and absentee voting. Elections officials have stopped using the latter term as most states no longer require an excuse, such as being absent on Election Day, to request a mail-in ballot.

“Universal” vote-by-mail, meantime, generally refers to the policy of sending every registered voter a mail-in ballot automatically. Only six largely Western states plan to do so in November.



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