President Donald Trump suggested delaying the 2020 election in a tweet Thursday, bringing his attack on mail-in voting to a crescendo and confirming the fears of those who have expressed concern that he may refuse to leave office.
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
The Thursday tweet is unprecedented in its explicit suggestion to delay the election. The President does not have that power – any such move would require a change of federal law and could not be put in place without approval from Congress.
The tweet came just about a half hour after the Commerce Department announced that the American economy took its worst quarterly plunge ever — shrinking at a 33% annual rate in its most recent quarter.
Federal law sets Election Day for presidential electors, senators, and House representatives as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” If Trump or any of his Republican supporters in the Senate wanted to change this law, they would need to go through the Democratic House.
For months Trump has dialed up his attack on mail-in voting, claiming that its widespread use amid the coronavirus pandemic will give way to “fraud.”
In May, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner floated the idea, refusing to rule out the possibility of postponing the November presidential election. The suggestion confirmed the fears of many Democrats who have said that Trump may leverage a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 150,000 people in the United States as a political prop to delay the election or contest its result and illegitimate.
“I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan” to hold the election in November, Kushner told Time magazine in a May interview when asked about whether the election could be postponed due to coronavirus.
In June, Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, who has led the President in polls, told The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah that “this President is going to try to steal this election.”
When asked if Biden had considered what would happen if he wins but Trump refuses to leave the White House, Biden said “I’m absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”