Washington, Jul 30 (PTI) US President Donald Trump on Thursday for the first time openly floated the idea of postponing the presidential elections in November, a suggestion immediately criticised by leaders of the opposition Democratic Party.
'With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,' Trump tweeted on Thursday, just 96 days before the election.
'It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???' Trump said in his tweet, which was immediately condemned by the opposition Democratic party leaders.
Trump, who is trailing in the race for the White House, argued that mail in voting brings in rigging in elections.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of Americans are expected to opt for mail in voting to avoid standing in line and going to a polling booth to exercise their right to franchise.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that delaying the election would be a “legal determination” left up to the Department of Justice. “The Department of Justice and others will make that legal determination,” he said.
The tweet by President invited sharp reaction from various sections. Lawmakers from both Democratic and Republican parties said there was no likelihood the election would be delayed.
'Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states: 'The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States',' Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted in response to Trump's tweet.
CNN said there is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud.
It said President Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. The Constitution also makes no provisions for a delay to the January 20, 2021 presidential inauguration. Trump's campaign said the President was offering a query.
'The President is just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting,' campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley was quoted as saying by the CNN. 'They are using coronavirus as their means to try to institute universal mail-in voting, which means sending every registered voter a ballot whether they asked for one or not.' President Trump's ally Sen. Lindsey Graham said, 'I don't think that's a particularly good idea.' “I have concerns about mail-in ballots being the exclusive way to cast votes but I don’t believe we should delay the elections. I want to reopen the economy in a sound way. I want people to go back to school safely,” Graham told reporters at the Hill. “In South Carolina, we had a very large primary in June and were able to do it in person. I think we can safely vote in person in November. I think delaying the election probably wouldn’t be a good idea,” Graham said in response to a question.
'I think that's probably a statement that gets some press attention, but I doubt it gets any serious traction,' said Sen. John Thune, the Senate Republican whip.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso also opposed the idea of delaying the general election. 'We're going to vote on Election Day and in the lead up to Election Day, it will be a secure election. No, we're not going to delay the election,' he told Fox News.
Senator Marco Rubio said since 1845 the election has been held on the first Tuesday after November 1st and it is not going to change.
'We’re going to have one again (this year). We’re going to have an election. It’s going to (be) legitimate, it’s going to be credible. It’s not going to change. We’re going to have an election in November and people should have confidence in it,” Rubio said.
“The federal law says we’re going to have the election the first Tuesday after the first Monday [in November.] All these things are pretty well set and have been going on for decades,” Senator Chuck Grassley said.
“We’re a country based on the rule of law so nobody’s going to change anything until we change the law. It doesn’t matter what one individual in this country says. We are still a country based on the rule of law and we want to follow the law until either the Constitution is changed or until the law’s changed,” Grassley said.
Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden previously raised the possibility of Trump attempting to delay the election.
'Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held,' Biden said at a virtual fundraiser in April, CNN reported, citing a pool report.
At the time, a spokesman for Trump said the claim amounted to 'incoherent, conspiracy theory ramblings of a lost candidate who is out of touch with reality.' Trump faces an uphill task in his reelection bid in November with his approval rating hitting a record low and Biden taking a double-digit lead in key indicators, according to a survey conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News.
The opinion poll, conducted between July 12 and 15, found that the coronavirus outbreak has adversely affected Trump's prospects. PTI LKJ IND