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Election

Trump drops election delay idea, targets postal voting

In the close race, the counting of paper votes was decided 35 days later after a final verdict by the Supreme Court following a series of legal challenges.

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Donald Trump

New York, July 31 : US President Donald Trump is using the impossible suggestion of delaying elections as a tool to scuttle plans by many states to allow all voters to cast their ballots by mail and to lay the basis for questioning the validity of the results.

After asking in a Thursday morning tweet, “delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”, he said at an evening news conference: “I don’t want a delay. I want to have the election.”

“But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

The President does not have the authority to delay the polls and the Constitution gives only the Congress the power to set the election day and the Democrats hold the majority in the House of Representatives.

The election day is fixed by an 1845 law as the first Tuesday in November, unless it falls on the first day of the month in which case it will be the next one.

Even in the Senate, which his Republican Party controls, Trump’s suggestion was promptly shot down.

“We’ll find a way to do that again this November 3” as scheduled, the leader of the Republican Majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, told a TV interview.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” he said.

Senator Kamala Harris, a front-runner to be the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential candidate tweeted: “Donald Trump is terrified because he knows he’s going to lose to @JoeBiden.”

The issue of postal voting by all registered voters has, however, created a split along the party lines with Democrats supporting it while Republicans are sceptical.

Trump’s tweet said: “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.”

He returned to the theme at the news conference criticising the plan by California, the largest state, and six others to send out postal ballots to all voters this year instead of the earlier system under which voters would have had to request them and in many give a valid reason for not being able to vote in person.

Several other states are also considering extending postal ballots to all.

Trump said: “It’s very, very unfair to our country. If they do this, our country will be a laughingstock all over the world because everyone knows it doesn’t work.”

He may have a point going by the experience with postal ballots that surged in recent primary elections as people wanted to avoid coming to voting booths because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In New York state, for example, the Board of Elections has not been able to announce all the results even a month after the primaries on June 23 because of problems with postal ballots.

One of the candidates in the congressional primaries, Suraj Patel, said that about 25 per cent of the postal ballots had been rejected, most on technicalities. That may be costing him the election.

Even the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, which leans towards the Democratic Party, criticised it with a headline that called it “a train wreck and a warning to us all”.

Trump cited such reports in the newspaper, although overall it ran articles favourable to universal postal ballots, to make his case questioning the ability of states to handle hundreds of millions of mail-in votes in a timely and safe manner.

When most voting is done in person at the polling boot results are known almost immediately after the close of polls.

The process becomes cumbersome if postal votes are the majority of votes cast as they will need to be verified individually to see if they met various regulations and can be challenged by candidates’ representatives and even end up in court.

In some states, postal ballots can be sent in 60 days before the November 3 election day, which means that in their cases the election campaign effectively ends on September 4, while in others it continues.

Trump also raised the threat of foreign countries like Russia or China manipulating the election results with a flood of forged votes.

The 2000 election in which Al Gore ran against George W. Bush was last time there was a delay in knowing the results.

In the close race, the counting of paper votes was decided 35 days later after a final verdict by the Supreme Court following a series of legal challenges.

Election

United States Presidential Election on Nov 3 as planned: WH officials

Election Day takes place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, as determined by federal law. Moving the date would require an act of Congress.

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Trump rally

Washington, Aug 3 : White House officials have confirmed that the upcoming US presidential election will be held as planned on November 3 after President Donald Trump raised the possibility of delaying it.

Speaking to CBS News on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the President was only raising concerns about mail-in ballots when he floated the idea of delaying election in a tweet last week.

“We’re going to hold an election on November 3 and the President is going to win,” Xinhua news agency quoted Meadows as saying to CBS News.

The Chief of Staff added that Trump “has not looked at delaying any election”.

Meadows’s remarks were echoed by presidential campaign adviser Jason Miller, who told Fox News on Sunday that “the election is going to be on November 3 and President Trump wants the election to be on November 3”.

In his tweet on July 29, Trump claimed — without providing any proof or evidence — that “universal mail-in voting” would make November’s vote “the most inaccurate & fraudulent election in history”.

“It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” he said.

“Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

But later in the day, Trump said that he did not want to delay the election, saying: “I don’t want a delay. I want to have the election… But I don’t want to see a crooked election.

“But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything. That’s what’s going to happen… that’s common sense. Mail-in ballots will lead to the greatest fraud.”

Trump’s delay tweet immediately ignited a political firestorm and drew bipartisan pushback from Capitol Hill, as legal analysts agreed that Trump has no authority to delay the election as the US Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date.

Election Day takes place on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, as determined by federal law. Moving the date would require an act of Congress.

Top Republicans — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — both dismissed the idea.

Trump ally Senator Lindsay Graham meanwhile said a delay was “not a good idea”.

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Election

Pompeo urges HK to reverse decision to suspend polls

“If they aren’t, then regrettably Hong Kong will continue its march toward becoming just another Communist-run city in China.

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mike pompeo

Washington/Hong Kong, Aug 2 : US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday urged Hong Kong to reverse a decision to suspend its legislative elections amid a resurgence of the coronavirus, saying the delay would be another blow to its autonomy from Beijing, the media reported.

In a statement published on Sunday morning, Pompeo condemned the decision by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to invoke her emergency powers to postpone the Legislative Council elections, scheduled for September 6, until September 5, 2021, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

“We urge Hong Kong authorities to reconsider their decision,” he said.

The elections should be held as close to the September 6 date as possible and in a manner that reflects the will and aspirations of the Hong Kong people.

“If they aren’t, then regrettably Hong Kong will continue its march toward becoming just another Communist-run city in China.

“There is no valid reason for such a lengthy delay… It is likely, therefore, that Hong Kong will never again be able to vote – for anything or anyone,” the SCMP newspaper quoted Pompeo as saying in the statement.

As relations between Washington and Beijing remain tense, the US has moved to end preferential treatment for Hong Kong over what it sees as an erosion of its autonomy and freedoms.

Besides Pompeo, Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers have also decried the election delay as a political move, with pro-democracy candidates expected to secure an unprecedented majority in the 70-seat legislature after dominating in the district council elections last November.

A day before the postponement was announced, election officials barred 12 opposition candidates from running, in some cases on the grounds of them previously supporting US sanctions on Hong Kong – which can now be considered an offence under the national security law imposed by China on the city.

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Election

Hong Kong postpones elections for a year ‘over virus concerns’

On Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would invoke emergency powers to postpone the elections, calling it the most difficult decision I’ve made over the past seven months .

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Kowloon: The Hong Kong government has postponed September’s parliamentary elections by a year, saying it is necessary amid a rise in coronavirus infections.

Hong Kong is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 infections, and reported 121 new cases on Friday.

However, the opposition has accused the government of using the pandemic as a pretext to stop people from voting, the BBC reported.

On Thursday, the government banned 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in the elections.

Opposition activists had hoped to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo) in September’s poll, capitalising on anger at Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, and fears that the territory’s freedoms are being eroded.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 under an agreement meant to guarantee a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.

Pro-democracy candidates had made unprecedented gains in last year’s district council elections, winning 17 out of 18 councils.

On Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would invoke emergency powers to postpone the elections, calling it the “most difficult decision I’ve made over the past seven months”.

“This postponement is entirely made based on public safety reasons, there were no political considerations,” she said.

Separately on Friday, Hong Kong police put six overseas activists on a wanted list on suspicion of violating the new national security law, media reports, including from Chinese state TV, said.

Reported to be among them are high-profile activist Nathan Law, who has fled to the UK, and Simon Cheng, a former employee of the UK’s Hong Kong consulate who alleges he was tortured in China and was recently granted political asylum in Britain.

But Hong Kong police have refused to comment.

Cheng told the BBC that an arrest warrant would not stop him speaking out about issues in Hong Kong. “The totalitarian regime now criminalises me, and I would take that not as a shame but an honour,” he said.

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