Trump proposes delaying election because of Covid-19 pandemic

US President Donald Trump speaks at the BOK Centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20, 2020.
US President Donald Trump speaks at the BOK Centre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump yesterday suggested delaying the 2020 presidential election, in which he is currently lagging badly in the polls, citing the coronavirus and what he said would be "fraudulent" voting.

"Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" Mr Trump asked in a tweet. "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," the tweet said.

Only Congress can change the date of the election, which is set by law for Nov 3. With Democrats ruling the Lower House, that seems highly unlikely to happen.

Mr Trump has previously insisted that he sees no problem going ahead with the election, where he faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Mr Trump has bitterly resisted Democratic-led attempts to increase availability of mail-in voting, saying that this will promote fraud and that Americans should line up at the polls as usual.

The President's sustained attacks on mail voting, combined with Democratic efforts to encourage more of their voters to request and submit absentee ballots by mail, have led to a significant Democratic advantage in mail voting.

In April, the liberal candidate for a Wisconsin state supreme court race performed about 10 percentage points better in ballots cast by mail than she did on election day, according to a New York Times analysis of the returns.

The President's opponents say there is no evidence of meaningful fraud in US elections and, rather, that more effort is needed to improve the complicated logistics of mail-in voting.

Democrats, including presumptive presidential nominee Biden, have already begun preparations to protect voters and the election amid fears that Mr Trump will try to interfere with the Nov 3 election.

 
 

"A sitting president is peddling lies and suggesting delaying the election to keep himself in power," said Democratic Representative Dan Kildee on Twitter.

"Don't let it happen. Every American - Republican, independent and Democrat - should be speaking out against this President's lawlessness and complete disregard of the Constitution."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2020, with the headline 'Trump proposes delaying election because of pandemic'. Print Edition | Subscribe