U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a roundtable on donating plasma during a visit to the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

In a series of tweets early Thursday, President Donald Trump said that the 2020 election would be “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election history,” floating the idea of delaying it until citizens can “properly, securely and safely vote.” Legal experts countered that only Congress has the power to change the date for the general election under the Constitution. In a statement provided to Politico, Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president’s tweet was “just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting.”

While it was not the first time President Trump questioned the validity and security of mail-in voting, this morning marked the first time he proposed postponing the November election. According to a tally by the Washington Post, the president “has attacked mail voting nearly 70 times since late March in interviews, remarks and tweets, including at least 17 times this month.” In May, Twitter added a fact-check label to two of President Trump’s tweets that “falsely claimed that mail-in ballots are fraudulent,” which led to threats from the president to “close down” social media platforms.

Many Democrats expressed concern regarding a potential election delay and some suggested it reflected the fear that President Trump could potentially lose to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Senator Bernie Sanders, D-V.T., stated, “No, Mr. President. We’re not delaying the election. The American people are sick and tired of your authoritarianism, your lies, your racism. On November 3, 2020 democracy will prevail and your disastrous presidency will end. Bye-bye.” Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted, “Donald Trump is terrified. He knows he’s going to lose to @JoeBiden. It will require every single one of us to make that happen. We will see you at the ballot box on November 3rd, @realDonaldTrump.”

Numerous Republicans also dismissed President Trump’s call to delay the November election. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “I have concerns about mail-in ballots being the exclusive way to cast votes, but I don’t believe we should delay the elections.” In a television interview with WNKY of Bowling Green, K.Y., Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell, R-K.Y., said, “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. We’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Republicans openly challenge Trump’s tweet on delaying election – CNN – 7/30/2020
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and Trump ally, told CNN when asked about the President’s call to delay the election: “I don’t think that’s a particularly good idea.” Majority Whip Sen. John Thune, a member of Republican leadership, told CNN that there will be an election in November despite the President’s tweet.

Trump suggests delaying election, warns mail-in ballots to result in ‘INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT’ vote – Fox News – 7/30/2020
The president’s tweet comes 96 days before the Nov. 3 election, and with early voting in some states starting in just two months. It also comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated, with new cases of the virus spiking in many states. Trump’s suggestion coincided too with the federal government reporting on Thursday the worst economic contraction in the nation’s history, as the pandemic has flattened much of the economy and attempted moves by states to revive their economies have been hampered by a surge in new coronavirus cases.

Trump Floats Delaying the 2020 Elections — Citing Inaccurate Claims on Voter Fraud – Truthout – 7/30/2020
The president’s tweet contained a number of inaccuracies. For example, his claim that absentee ballots have more protections against fraud than mail-in voting has been refuted by fact-checking organizations. The chances of an illegal ballot being cast through the mail is so slim that individuals actually have a higher chance of being struck by lightning than becoming the victims of voter impersonation fraud.

Donald Trump’s Weak, Self-Defeating Call for Delaying the Election – National Review – 7/30/2020
But it’s one thing to point out the problems with the voting system, and another to drop a 1-2 punch of wild attacks on the legitimacy of the election (the way Democrats so often do) and then floating an unserious but scary-sounding trial balloon about delaying the election. (For good measure, Trump undermined his own campaign’s prior attacks on Joe Biden for claiming that Trump would try to delay the election.) 

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Twitter, 7/30/2020: If we could hold an election in 1864 in the midst of a Civil War, we can and will hold one in 2020. It’s time for the president to get his priorities straight and work with Congress on a recovery package that protects our families, frontline workers, and small business owners.

Dave Wasserman on Twitter, 7/30/2020: magine a hypothetical swing state where 42% of the vote is cast by mail and there’s an extreme partisan gap between VBM (80% Biden) and in-person (70% Trump). Here’s what an 8% VBM rejection rate could do (graphic credit @alflinn)

US Rep Rodney Davis on Twitter, 7/30/2020: There will be no delay in the #2020Election. Congress sets the election date, and it should not be changed. It will be held on November 3rd, as planned and required by law.

Patrick Svitek on Twitter, 7/30/2020: In a rare move, Texas Republicans tell President Trump “no” after he calls for delaying the election — something he’s not legally allowed to do https://t.co/UgIPddmbTg via @TexasTribune

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