This year won’t be the first time Americans have voted amid disruption and crisis. U.S. democracy has functioned through wars and previous public health emergencies, as history shows. A trio of federal laws set Election Day for presidential electors, senators, and US representatives as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” If Republicans want to change this law, they would need to go through the Democratic House.
With all major opinion polls showing that Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump in the upcoming Presidential election, US President Donald Trump has sought that the presidential polls in November be postponed till people can “properly, securely and safely” cast their votes. Trump, who will be seeking re-election against Democrat rival Joe Biden, alleged increased postal voting, due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, could lead to fraud and inaccurate results.
“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???” he said in a series of tweets.
He also claimed that mail-in voting, as it is known in the US, would be susceptible to foreign interference. “The Dems talk of foreign influence in voting, but they know that Mail-In Voting is an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race,” he said.
Trump also claimed that postal voting was “already proving to be a catastrophic disaster” in areas where it was being tried out. Several US states want to make postal voting easier due to public health concerns.
Trump has refused to back down from his suggestion that the November general election be postponed, repeating unsubstantiated predictions of widespread voter fraud amid the coronavirus pandemic and saying that large numbers of mail-in ballots might mean “you never even know who won the election.”
“I don’t want to see an election — you know, so many years I’ve been watching elections,” Trump added. “And they say the projected winner or the winner of the election. I don’t want to see that take place in a week after Nov. 3 or a month or, frankly, with litigation and everything else that could happen, in years, years, or you never even know who won the election.”
Universal mail-in voting refers to a practice where states automatically mail a ballot to all registered voters within the state — a ballot that can then be cast by mail or returned in-person to various polling sites. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, seven states — California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington — are vote-by-mail states.
Vote-by-mail is not a new practice. Oregon became the first state to adopt this practice in 2000. Since then, the state has provided over 100 million mail-in ballots to voters since 2000. It has only documented 12 cases of fraud.
Trump does not have the power to reschedule voting. Election dates are set by statute dating to 1845, and no U.S. presidential election has ever been postponed. Trump’s call for a delay is an outrageous break with American faith in democracy.
The 20th Amendment, moreover, provides that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” Thus, even if the election were somehow canceled, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s terms would still expire as scheduled — although, as explained below, the question of who would succeed them is devilishly complicated.
Congress has set the date of House and Senate elections for “the Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November.” Neither Trump nor any state official has the power to alter this date. Only a subsequent act of Congress could do so.
The picture for presidential elections is slightly more complicated. A federal statute does provide that “the electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November,” so states must choose members of the Electoral College on the same day as a congressional election takes place.
The thing that could threaten Biden’s potential presidency — and the ability of the country to move on from what will be one of the nastiest elections in modern history — is if Trump simply refuses to admit he lost, never conceding that Biden is the fair-and-square president.
And that, judging by Trump’s long history of refusing to ever acknowledge defeat, and instead claiming he was cheated out of victory by nefarious forces, is not only a possible outcome but a likely one if the incumbent comes up short this fall.
Joe Biden said that he believes if President Donald Trump loses the election and refuses to leave the White House, many of the former generals who used to work for him “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”
The president’s extraordinary proposal, which he is not constitutionally empowered to enforce, represented another attempt by Trump at floating a suspension of the election less than 100 days away.