WASHINGTON — Top Republican leaders want no part of President Donald Trump’s suggestion to delay November’s election, a move he does not have the power to make on his own.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning to his 84 million Twitter followers. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
The tweet is part of an argument the president has been making against mail-in voting, which has been widely instituted across the US because of the coronavirus. Trump, who voted by mail this year, has baselessly argued that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud. Last week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the long delays in the New York mail-in ballot process in the state's primary an “absolute catastrophe,” confirming the fears of voting experts and political strategists that Trump will use any mail-in delays to question the legitimacy of November's election.
Several Republicans pushed back against Trump's idea to delay the November vote, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told a WKNY-TV reporter the Nov. 3 election date is set in stone.
Sen. Rick Scott, a staunch supporter of the president, also isn’t keen on the idea. “Senator Rick Scott does not support postponing the election,” a spokesperson for the Florida Republican told BuzzFeed News Thursday.
Close Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham echoed a similar sentiment to reporters in the Capitol, saying, “I don’t believe we should delay the elections. Delaying the election probably wouldn’t be a good idea.” But he added, “I think we can be able to safely vote in person in November.”
BuzzFeed News reported on the possibility of Trump trying to delay the election back in March and found the president can’t legally do so on his own, not even amid a national emergency. Congress sets the times and dates of all federal elections, as written in the US Constitution. Congress would have to rewrite the Constitution, which, if they voted to do so, could in the most unique scenario push the election no further than Dec. 14.
But even a short delay is highly unlikely without the support of Democratic-led House of Representatives, not to mention the Republicans who have come out against the idea in the House and Senate.
“Election dates are set by Congress. And I will oppose any attempts to delay the #2020Election,” tweeted Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has been critical of the president in the past.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who is often critical of the president, also dismissed the idea of bumping the election.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters mail-in voting “works extremely well” in his state, where he said 90% of voters vote by mail. He also said it’s easier to review paper ballots because “you have an actual record,” which, he suggested, are less challenging to check than electronic machines.
“You can’t tamper with paper,” Romney added.