Lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate showed little appetite Thursday for following through on US President Donald Trump’s suggestion to move the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Democrats expectedly stood in uniform opposition, but they were joined by many Republicans who also refused to lend their backing to the president as he trails significantly in national polls with less than 100 days until Election Day.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s most ardent allies in the senate, said he does “not support delaying the November election.”
“My goal is to continue safely reopening our economy and schools for the fall. I believe we can achieve these goals and have a free and fair election as scheduled,” he said on Twitter.
Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Thune dismissed outright the president’s call during a CNN interview, saying “I think that’s probably a statement that gets some press attention, but I doubt it gets any serious traction.”
The sentiments were shared by several prominent Republicans in the House where Illinois congressman Adam Kinzinger said “Reminder: Election dates are set by Congress. And I will oppose any attempts to delay the #2020Election.”
Dusty Johnson, South Dakota’s sole House representative, said that moving the date of the election would “seriously jeopardize” its legitimacy, calling on officials to “ensure that Americans can vote safely, whether by voting early or on November 3.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, responded to Trump by referencing the Constitution, which states “Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes.”
Undeterred, Trump has pinned the tweet in which he first publicly mentioned the idea atop his Twitter profile.
“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,” it says. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Trump has no power to reschedule the polls. That falls to Congress who would have to pass legislation to change the status quo. Congress mandated in 1845 that Election Day must be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
In addition to lagging behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by nearly 10% in most polls, Trump made the declaration just minutes after the US government announced the largest quarterly economic dip on record — a 32.9% contraction in GDP caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis said the decline “reflected” efforts to curtail the virus’ spread, including stay-at-home orders that were issued in March and April.
Biden in April predicted Trump would seek a delay in the election.
“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,” Biden said during a virtual fundraiser.
Trump’s proposal came amid his continued vocal opposition to mail-in balloting amid the coronavirus pandemic, which he said would lead to a “rigged election.” Several states have decided to implement universal mail-in voting in order to ensure citizens are able to cast ballots as there is no end in sight to the outbreak.