Trump allies and critics unite to oppose poll delay
:: US president claimed results would be ‘inaccurate and fraudulent’
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’