US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that the November presidential election might have to be delayed, citing unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting could result in fraud.
‘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???’ Trump tweeted.
It was the first time Trump has floated the idea of postponing the election, though he does not have the power to do so unilaterally.
The date of the election - the Tuesday after the first Monday in November - is enshrined in the US Constitution. It would require an act of Congress to alter, which would be difficult to pass in the Democratic-controlled House.
The president's suggestion is likely to raise concerns about possible attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the election.
In a Fox News interview earlier this month, Trump refused to commit to accepting the results if he lost the presidency in November.
Trump has been pushing hard to block the expansion of postal voting in states around the country. The movement was growing, as part of an effort to making voting easier, but gained momentum amid fears about coronavirus spreading as people gather at polling stations.
There is no evidence to support the idea that either absentee or mail-in ballots contribute to voter fraud.
The Republican president is seeking a second term in November.
Both in national polls and surveys in some swing states, Trump is trailing his rival, the Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a former vice president, by large numbers.
Voters say they are increasingly disappointed by the US administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump's tweet came minutes after the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported the economy shrank a record 32.9 per cent on the year in the second quarter, and labour Department data showed increasing numbers of people are seeking unemployment benefits.
Democratic lawmakers were quick to slam the president's suggestion, casting it as a distraction from his handling of the virus outbreak, the economy and poor polling numbers.
‘There is no way @POTUS can delay the election. We shouldn't let him distract us from his #COVID19 incompetence,’ Senator Tom Udall tweeted. ‘But the fact that he is even suggesting it is a serious, chilling attack on the democratic process.’
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