US President Donald Trump has floated the idea of delaying the Nov. 3 U.S. elections, an idea immediately rejected by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in Congress, who has the sole authority to make such a decision.
Critics and even Trump’s allies dismissed the notion as an unserious attempt to distract from devastating economic news, but some legal experts warned that his repeated attacks could undermine his supporters’ faith in the election process.
Trump’s statement on Twitter comes as the United States is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 155,285 Americans.
On Thursday morning, the government reported the worst U.S. economic contraction since the Great Depression: 32.9% in the second quarter.
Opinion polls show Trump trailing Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden, said he would not trust the results of an election that included widespread mail voting. Without evidence, he claimed that ramped up mail voting would be rife with fraud, but praised absentee voting, which is also done by mail.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
At a White House news conference later in the day, Trump did not repeat his call for an election delay but said he was worried about fraud and a long wait for results from counting mail ballots.
“Do I want to see a date change? No. But I don’t want to see a crooked election,” he told reporters.
The United States has held elections for more than 200 years, including during the Civil War, the Great Depression and two world wars. Article II of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to set the timing of elections, and the 20th Amendment ends a president and vice president’s term in office on the Jan. 20 following a general election.