Trump al­lies and crit­ics unite to op­pose poll de­lay

:: US pres­i­dent claimed re­sults would be ‘in­ac­cu­rate and fraudulent’

Irish Independent - - News | John Hume: 1937-2020 - Rachael Alexan­der WASH­ING­TON

THE White House and Don­ald Trump’s re-elec­tion cam­paign has sought to shut down the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent’s re­marks on de­lay­ing the 2020 vote, say­ing there will be an elec­tion on Novem­ber 3.

The com­ments sparked a back­lash from both Repub­li­cans and Democrats. White House chief of staff Mark Mead­ows said Mr Trump was rais­ing con­cerns about mail-in bal­lots when he floated the idea of de­lay­ing the US vote.

“We’re go­ing to hold an elec­tion on Novem­ber 3 and the pres­i­dent is go­ing to win,” Mr Mead­ows said on CBS’s ‘Face the Na­tion’.

Mr Trump’s cam­paign ad­viser Ja­son Miller echoed the sen­ti­ment on Fox News say­ing: “The elec­tion is go­ing to be on Novem­ber 3rd and Pres­i­dent Trump wants the elec­tion to be on Novem­ber 3rd.”

Congress is the sole branch of govern­ment with the au­thor­ity to change the date of a US elec­tion. Crit­ics and even Trump’s al­lies dis­missed the no­tion as an un­se­ri­ous at­tempt to dis­tract from dev­as­tat­ing eco­nomic news, but some le­gal ex­perts warned that his re­peated at­tacks could un­der­mine his sup­port­ers’ faith in the elec­tion process.

The Repub­li­can pres­i­dent has been try­ing to un­der­mine con­fi­dence in mail-in bal­lot­ing, claim­ing re­peat­edly and with­out ev­i­dence that it would lead to wide­spread voter fraud.

Mr Mead­ows took up his boss’s cause, warn­ing that mail-in bal­lots must be han­dled prop­erly, with­out pro­vid­ing ev­i­dence that this has not been the case in the past.

Asked if it were ir­re­spon­si­ble for Mr Trump to float the idea, Mr Mead­ows skirted the ques­tion, say­ing: “It is re­spon­si­ble for him to say that if we try to go to 100pc univer­sal mail-in bal­lots, will we have an elec­tion re­sult on Novem­ber 3? I would sug­gest we wouldn’t even have it on Jan­uary 1.”

Mr Trump’s tweet set off alarm bells through­out Wash­ing­ton.

He warned with­out ev­i­dence that “2020 will be the most IN­AC­CU­RATE & FRAUDULENT Elec­tion in his­tory” and ended by ask­ing, “De­lay the Elec­tion un­til peo­ple can prop­erly, se­curely and safely vote???”

“There was a ques­tion mark,” Mr Mead­ows said of the tweet.

He also ar­gued that vastly ex­panded mail vot­ing could de­lay elec­tion re­sults by a month or more.

“What we will do is, if we try to trans­form this and start mail­ing in bal­lots all across the coun­try, all 50 states, we will see a de­lay be­cause they’re just not equipped to han­dle it,” he said.

Mr Mead­ows’ de­fence comes af­ter Repub­li­can law­mak­ers roundly re­jected Trump’s sug­ges­tion to de­lay the elec­tion, in­clud­ing sev­eral of the pres­i­dent’s strong­est al­lies such as Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell and Se­na­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham. The pres­i­dent does not have the au­thor­ity to change the date of the gen­eral elec­tion, which is set by Congress.

“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,” Mr McCon­nell said in a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view.

“We’ll find a way to do that again this Novem­ber 3.”

Mr Trump’s sug­ges­tion was also re­jected by Repub­li­can gov­er­nors, many of whom are try­ing to in­crease mail vot­ing in their states. Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor of Arkansas Asa Hutchin­son told CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ the elec­tion should be held on time and it was up to states to en­sure bal­lot­ing is car­ried out prop­erly.

“It’s not help­ful for the pres­i­dent to think out loud in a pub­lic fash­ion and ex­press some frus­tra­tion,” he added.

The coro­n­avirus cri­sis is ex­pected to drive a surge in mail vot­ing in Novem­ber. State elec­tion of­fi­cials are work­ing to en­sure tens of mil­lions of bal­lots can reach vot­ers in time to be cast and are re­turned in time to be counted. Arkansas is among the states that have ex­panded mail-vot­ing ac­cess to all vot­ers dur­ing the pan­demic.

Ac­tual in­stance of fraud in mail vot­ing are ex­cep­tion­ally rare, and most Repub­li­can elec­tion of­fi­cials are try­ing to ex­pand mail-in vot­ing de­spite the pres­i­dent’s as­saults on it.

State elec­tion of­fi­cials have warned that a surge in mail vot­ing dur­ing the pan­demic could pro­duce de­lays in vote tal­ly­ing. They have sought fund­ing from Wash­ing­ton to help the process run more smoothly but have met with lim­ited suc­cess. Congress ap­pro­pri­ated $400 mil­lion for elec­tions dur­ing the early weeks of the pan­demic, but Demo­cratic ef­forts to de­liver up to $3.6 bil­lion in ad­di­tional money have been stymied by Repub­li­cans. (© Reuters)

Con­fi­dent: Mark Mead­ows said ‘the pres­i­dent is go­ing to win’

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