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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

Congress forms 5-party Mahagathbandhan to take on BJP in Assam

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Guwahati, Jan 20: The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced a five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ to take on the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam in the upcoming Assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.

Announcing the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said that his party would contest the elections in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the three Left parties – Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

He said that regional parties are welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the state.

“The Congress is always keen to oust all communal forces for the best interest of the country. People are ready to vote out the BJP as its misgovernance caused a lot of distress to the people, who have become fed up with the BJP,” he said.

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

AGM President Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, also a Rajya Sabha member, termed the formation of the grand alliance as a historic moment. He sounded optimistic that the grand alliance would defeat the BJP in the forthcoming elections.

Besides the AIUDF, a Muslim-dominated party in Assam, and the Left parties, state Congress leaders had held several meetings in the past few months with the ‘like minded parties’.

AIUDF President and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has been stating that the two parties (Congress and AIUDF) have decided to contest the Assembly polls together since their tie-up for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls held last month.

Recently, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi had appointed three central leaders — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister), Mukul Wasnik (AICC General Secretary) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Bihar MLA) — to oversee the election campaign in Assam in close coordination with the AICC general secretaries and the party in-charge for the state.

Baghel and other central leaders held meetings with the state party leaders in Guwahati before Assam Congress chief announced the Mahagathbandhan.

The Congress had suffered a setback in the recent elections to the BTC and the Tiwa Autonomous Council. Two of its MLAs – Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala – had joined the BJP last month, delivering another blow to the party.

In the 2016 Assam assembly elections, the Congress had contested on its own without an electoral alliance with any party, securing 24 seats.

After the last Assembly polls, the BJP formed the government in Assam for the first time after winning 60 seats following the formation of an alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which won 14 and 12 seats, respectively. The ruling alliance also has the support of an Independent MLA.

The 126-member Assam Assembly is likely to go to the polls in April-May along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

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Election

Sonia forms 10-member election panel for Kerala chaired by Chandy

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, Jan 20: Eyeing the assembly polls in Kerala, the Congress on Tuesday announced a 10-member Election Management and Strategy Committee under the leadership of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as its chairperson along with senior party members like Shashi Tharoor and K. C. Venugopal.

Venugopal, who is the party’s General Secretary (Organisations) in a statement said that party chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Election Management and Strategy Committee of Kerala Congress for the upcoming assembly elections with immediate effect.

He further said that the Committee shall meet frequently to discuss matters related to electioneering, co-ordination and formulation of election strategies.

Besides Chandy, Tharoor and Venugopal, the party has also named Mullapallay Ramachandran, Ramesh Chennithala, Tariq Anwar, K. Muraleedharan, V.M. Sudheeran, K. Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh as the panel members.

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Election

Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Congress

Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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