Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy both dismissed president Donald Trump’s idea to delay election day.
President Donald Trump does not have the upper hand to delay the election, as any delay would have to be approved by Congress.
Previously, Trump suggested that increased postal voting could result to fraud and inexact results. He floated a delay until people could “properly, securely and safely” vote. There is little proof to support Trump’s suggestions but he has long railed against postal voting, which he has said would be gullible to fraud.
US want to make mail-in voting easier because of public health worry over the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Donald Trump’s intervention came as new numbers revealed the US economy had sustained the worst contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Senator McConnell said no US presidential election had ever been postponed before.
“Never in the history of this country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time. We will find a way to do that again this November third,” he told local Kentucky station WNKY.
Mr McCarthy echoed him. “Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” he said.
Trump ally Senator Lindsay Graham meanwhile said postponing was “not a good idea”.
Nevertheless, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected to be part of Trump’s idea. Questioned by reporters on whether a president could delay an election, he said he would not “enter a legal judgement on the fly”.
The spokesman for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, Hogan Gidley, said Mr Trump had just been “raising a question”.
President Donald Trump can’t postpone November’s presidential election without Congress, partially controlled by the Democrats’ approval. If he wasn’t aware of all this clearly someone has certainly told him by now.
Mr Trump also must also be aware that tweeting about a delay even framed as an “I’m just asking!” question is sure to ignite a political firestorm, particularly after he has repeatedly declined to say whether he’d accept an adverse result in the upcoming presidential election.
Trump seems to be doing everything in his power to undermine the credibility of November’s election, in which a record number of Americans are predicted to depend on mail-in voting to avoid the risk of exposure to the COVID-19. He’s allegedly made false and misleading accusations 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 point may be simply to give him a scapegoat if he loses.
His tweet could also be an attempt to shift attention away from the truly dismal second-quarter economic numbers just released. He’s been depending on a financial turnaround to keep his re-election campaign steady, and instead the outlook seems 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.
At a Thursday afternoon White House news conference, Trump denied he wanted to delay the election, but proclaimed that mass postal voting would leave the result in doubt.
“I don’t want to delay, I want to have the election,” he said. “But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything.”
“I don’t want to see a crooked election,” Donald Trump also told reporters. “This election will be the most rigged election in history if that happens.”
In a sequence of tweets earlier, Trump protested against mass postal voting and warned without providing proof that it would be susceptible to foreign interference.
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 undisclosed.
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.
As Washington Post stated, US Postal Service workers say backlogs may delay delivery of ballots in time for November’s election due to cost-cutting measures under the Trump administration.
Mr Trump does not have the right to delay the date of the election, which by law is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
Any delays would need to be approved by both houses of Congress the House of Representatives and the Senate. Democrats control the House of Representatives and some have already stated that they will not support any change of date to the vote.
Any move by Congress to postpone the election into 2021 would also require a constitutional amendment, US media quoted constitutional experts as saying.
Earlier this month, six US states were planning to hold “all-mail” ballot elections in November: California, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Other states are considering it according to a postal voting campaign group.
These states will automatically send postal ballots to all registered voters, which then have to be sent back or released on election day although some in-person voting is still available in certain limited circumstances.
About half of US states allow any registered voter to cast their ballot by post on request.