WASHINGTON — In a uncommon second within the Trump period, a number of Texas Republicans pushed again towards President Donald Trump on Thursday when he floated in a tweet the concept of delaying the presidential election in November. The president doesn’t have the authorized authority to maneuver Election Day; that energy resides with Congress.
Trump’s tweet got here simply 16 minutes after the U.S. Commerce Department released data displaying the nation’s gross home product had fallen 33% within the second quarter of 2020. In it, he said, “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???!”
Like voter fraud general, examples of fraudulent voting utilizing mail-in ballots remain rare. And there is not any distinction between mail-in voting and absentee voting, regardless of the framing within the tweet.
Democrats and Republicans reply
Democrats have lengthy frightened that Trump would transfer in that course. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival, predicted as a lot in April. “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,” he stated on the time. “That’s the only way he thinks he can possibly win.”
Republicans, nevertheless, have been privately shocked. Publicly, a cascade of Texas GOP officeholders pushed again towards the president’s suggestion.
Most notably, the state’s junior senator — who devoted a lot of his childhood years finding out the Constitution — responded instantly. CNN quoted U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as saying that, whereas election fraud is a “serious problem” that must be fought, “the election should not be delayed.”
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn downplayed the president’s comment.
“I think it’s a joke, I guess, I don’t know how else to interpret it,” he informed reporters. “Obviously he does not have the ability to try this.
“So, I mean, so, all you guys in the press, your heads will explode and you’ll write about it. I don’t know what his motivation is. He can’t do it,” he stated.
There are few documented cases of absentee voting fraud in Texas lately, representing a minuscule pattern in a state the place hundreds of thousands of reliable votes are solid in each normal election. The Texas Legislature has taken motion to scale back the chance of fraud even additional. In 2017, state lawmakers handed a measure to widen the definition of mail-in poll fraud, increase penalties for sure offenses and strengthen guidelines for signature verification on these ballots. The laws, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into regulation, additionally requires native election officers to inform voters when their ballots are rejected and limits who can help voters utilizing the vote-by-mail choice.
Abbott asserted the integrity of the Texas election system in an announcement. “Texas has adopted procedures and guidelines to ensure safe and fair elections, including extending the early in-person voting period, and the elections in Texas will occur on November 3rd,” he stated.
In the House, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, pressed his Republican colleagues to make clear the place they stood on the problem.
“An urgent question for every Republican officeholder and candidate: Do you support President Trump’s unconstitutional effort to postpone the November election for the first time in American history in order to continue his march to tyranny?” Doggett tweeted early Thursday.
“No, it’s not even a question. No delays. We should demand safe and secure elections. If you requested an absentee ballot, you should use it. And states should not use universal mail-in, which is indeed vulnerable to mistakes and abuse,” U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, tweeted in response to Trump.
GOP state legislators additionally weighed in.
“We must do all we can to ensure election integrity. Absolutely. But, no way we should entertain delaying the election. Should not even be up for discussion,” tweeted state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth.
Privately, Texas Republicans expressed more pointed astonishment and fear that the president’s feedback strengthened Democratic fees that Trump is making an attempt to unduly affect the election. One exasperated Texas GOP delegation staffer in contrast the second to World War II and famous that even then, the nation was in a position to conduct elections.
Can Trump legally delay Election Day?
Setting the date for Election Day will not be inside the presidential powers. The Constitution empowers Congress to set the election date. That custom stretches again to 1845, when Congress first established that Election Day can be the primary Tuesday after the primary Monday of November in each fourth 12 months.
Elections are overseen by state officers however largely run by native election officers who’re liable for managing polling locations and counting votes. Their duties embrace fielding functions from absentee voters and processing these ballots.
Democrats and civil rights organizations brazenly concern that statements just like the one Trump made Thursday will undermine the legitimacy of the November election, when an elevated variety of voters are anticipated to vote by mail through the pandemic.
“Suggesting the possibility of moving the General Election is an extraordinary statement from a sitting President and is sure to create confusion amongst voters about presidential powers in relation to the election,” Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center, stated in an announcement. “The country has voted in general elections in the middle of a Civil War, two World Wars and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, not to mention the Great Depression.”
While common mail-in voting has been in use in different states for a few years, absentee voting is often evenly utilized in Texas. People who’re registered to vote in Texas should meet strict eligibility standards to use for a poll they’ll fill out at dwelling and mail in. The choice is mostly reserved for voters who’re 65 and older, those that cite a incapacity or an sickness, and those that shall be out of the county they’re registered in through the election interval.
As voters grapple with the dangers that would come from casting their ballots in particular person, the pandemic has ushered in a rising debate over whether or not to broaden the parameters of who qualifies to vote absentee. In different states that additionally require voters to current an “excuse” to acquire a mail-in poll, Democratic and Republican officers have both moved to broaden absentee voting because of the pandemic or allowed voters to make use of the coronavirus as a purpose to vote by mail through the upcoming elections. Texas’ Republican leaders, in contrast, have refused to budge on the problem and have efficiently fought off efforts by state Democrats and civil rights teams to power an enlargement by way of the courts.
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.
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