With reactions to Trump's tweet about possibly moving the election going about as one might expect - which the Trump campaign defended as 'just raising the question' - Federal Election Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said on Thursday that the executive branch does not have the power to move the November election, nor should it be moved.
No, Mr. President. No. You don't have the power to move the election. Nor should it be moved. States and localities are asking you and Congress for funds so they can properly run the safe and secure elections all Americans want. Why don't you work on that?— Ellen L 😷 Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) July 30, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to think it's a matter for the Justice Department:
"In the end, the Department of Justice and others will make that legal determination" -- Mike Pompeo on Trump's tweet suggesting the presidential election should be delayed pic.twitter.com/lmCoolwAg0— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 30, 2020
In truth, only Congress can delay the date for the general election for the presidency, as the Constitution gives Congress the authority to set the general election date.
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President Trump fired off a Thursday tweet that's about to dominate the weekend news cycle - suggesting that the 2020 election could be postponed over concerns that mail-in ballots will lead to "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history," adding "It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
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???— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
Trump's tweet ignited a firestorm from the left:
Never in American history—not even during the Civil War and World War II--has there been a successful move to “Delay the Election” for President.— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) July 30, 2020
We all knew it was coming to this. Make no mistake about it: Any announcement of a delay of the election will be a declaration of war against America by our criminal president. https://t.co/fIAE4spGWd— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 30, 2020
Kids can go to school, but we can’t vote?— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) July 30, 2020
Both CNN's Manu Raju and Business Insider went with the very editorialized "baseless" to describe voter fraud, despite a plethora of evidence it's indeed based (see below).
And of course, this is also a giant distraction:
This plays into an April warning by former VP Joe Biden, who said "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."
"We have to figure out how we are going to conduct a full and fair and safe election in November and no one should have to risk their lives to cast a ballot," Biden added.
The Trump campaign's 'War Room' account replied to the president's tweet with a report that "68% of Voters Are Concerned About The Security of Mail-In Ballots."
68% of voters are concerned about the security of mail-in ballots!https://t.co/SuobT07oez— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) July 30, 2020
A poll in late June by The Hill - HarrisX found that 68% of registered voters were either 'somewhat or very concerned about the possibility of tampering with mail-in ballots.'
Republicans are much more likely to be worried about it, which is likely a reflection of President Trump's rhetoric on the issue. Trump has repeatedly warned, without providing evidence, that mail-in balloting is subject to fraud.
Eighty percent of Republicans in the survey said they were somewhat or very concerned with tampering with mail-in ballots, compared to 68 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democratic voters.
Fifty-eight percent said they were worried about the privacy of their vote if they voted by mail, including 70 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats.
But voters overall were more concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus when voting in person. -The Hill
In May, Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots would lead to the "greatest Rigged Election in history."
The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and “force” people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020
As Michael Graham of InsideSources wrote in late May:
Concerns about mail-in voting and fraud aren’t new.
A bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker declared, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”
In the 2018 midterms, a congressional election in North Carolina was overturned and had to be re-held because an unscrupulous Republican operative was using mail-in ballots to scam the system.
And the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) just released data that more than 28 million ballots by mail went unaccounted for from 2012 to 2018, with more than one million going to the incorrect address in 2018 alone.
“Absentee ballot fraud is the most common, the most expensive to investigate, and it can never be reversed after an election,” said the organization’s president J. Christian Adams.
“The status quo was already bad for mail balloting. The proposed emergency fix is worse.”
More recently, “in a Supreme Court contest in Wisconsin in April, about 1,600 ballots were discovered the morning after Election Day in a mail processing facility in Chicago — 1,600 voters whose ballots did not count,” The Hill reports. “Hundreds more who applied for absentee ballots did not receive them in time, according to a report by the state Board of Elections.”
And literally the same day President Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots “would be forged,” the Department of Justice announced a mail carrier in West Virginia was being charged with attempted election fraud by committing forgery on mail-in ballots.
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Of course it should be noted that the executive branch doesn't have the authority to change the date of presidential elections - rather, it would be in hands of Congress to decide such a drastic measure.