WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump, lagging in the polls and grappling with deepening economic and public health crises, on Thursday floated the startling idea of delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election. The notion drew immediate pushback from Democrats and Republicans alike in a nation that has held itself up as a beacon to the world for its history of peaceful transfer of power.
Trump suggested the delay as he pushed unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic results in fraud. But shifting Election Day is virtually impossible and the very idea represented another bracing attempt by Trump to undermine confidence in the American political system.
Then, the date of the presidential election — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — is enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change.
Top Republicans in Congress quickly rebuffed Trump’s suggestion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the election date is set in stone and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said the election “should go forward” as planned. Regardless, the Constitution makes no provisions for a delay in the end of Trump’s term — noon on Jan. 20, 2021.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. So, delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
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