Washington, Jul 30 : 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 badly in the race for the White House, argued that mail in voting brings in rigging in elections. He has been a big opponent to it.
During COVID-19 pandemic era, 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.
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 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.
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.
Now, the president””s hopes of winning are pinned on his enthusiastic core base of supporters and showing the electorate that the pandemic is being dealt with effectively, according to the poll.
Among registered voters, Biden, 77, leads Trump, 74, 55 per cent to 40 per cent. In the same category, Biden led Trump by just two points in March and by 10 points in May.
The survey found that traditional Republican and Democratic voters are treating the November polls as a referendum on Trump and not on whether Biden is a more suitable candidate.
Seventy-two per cent of Trump voters say reelecting the president is important, while 62 per cent of Biden voters say defeating Trump is the goal.