Trump Floats Whether to ‘Delay the Election,’ Something He Cannot Legally Do

click to enlarge President Donald Trump addresses a news conference at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. President Trump did not ask President Vladimir Putin, when they spoke last week by telephone, whether Russian operatives in Afghanistan had paid Taliban-affiliated militants bounties to kill American soldiers, Trump said in an interview, on Tuesday with Axios. - DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Donald Trump addresses a news conference at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 28, 2020. President Trump did not ask President Vladimir Putin, when they spoke last week by telephone, whether Russian operatives in Afghanistan had paid Taliban-affiliated militants bounties to kill American soldiers, Trump said in an interview, on Tuesday with Axios.

By the New York Times

Since the pandemic began, Democrats have feared that President Donald Trump would seek to cancel or postpone November’s general election. On Thursday, for the first time, Trump in a tweet suggested the vote be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote,” something he cannot legally do.

Even for Trump, suggesting a delay in the election is an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that Trump and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to Joe Biden, the former vice president.

His suggestion came minutes after the Commerce Department announced that the nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced, fell 9.5% during the three months ending June 30, the largest quarterly drop on record.


“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

While the White House has officially denied Trump has any interest in changing the date of the election from Nov. 3, some of his allies and top aides have on occasion floated the possibility.

Trump has no authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, which is set by federal law. His suggestion comes as polls show him trailing far behind Biden in surveys of nearly all of the key battleground states. And Trump’s claim that mail voting leads to inaccurate counts or fraud is false.

But the president’s sustained attacks on mail voting, combined with Democratic efforts to encourage more of their voters to request and submit absentee ballots by mail, has led to a significant Democratic advantage in mail voting. In April, the liberal candidate for a Wisconsin state Supreme Court race performed about 10 percentage points better in ballots cast by mail than she did on Election Day, according to a New York Times analysis of the returns.


Earlier this month, in a television interview with Fox News, Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the 2020 election, echoing remarks he made in 2016.

“It depends. I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.” Pressed further on whether he would accept the results, Trump said, “I have to see.”

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