President Donald Trump has walked back his controversial suggestion to delay the November 3 elections in the face of fierce opposition from even Republicans.
“Do I want to see a date change? No,” Trump said to reporters at the daily White House briefing on the Covid-19 epidemic. “But I don’t want to see a crooked election.”
The US president mooted election delay in a tweet Thursday as an alternative to the use of mail-in voting in the November 3 elections, arguing it will lead to fraud and abuse. It is being considered by many states in view of the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic and some of them tried it in the primaries.
Trump brought copies of news articles to the briefing about specific cases of problems facing mail-in voting in Democratic primaries in New York and New Jersey. “Mail-in ballots will lead to the greatest fraud,” he said.
Subsequently, the election-delay tweet that was pinned at the top post on his Twitter feed for more than 84 million followers to see, had been taken down by the end of the day.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, made the point with a tweet quoting the constitution: “Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states:’The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States’.”
And others, including many senior Republicans, pointed to the fact that elections had been held in the midst of even the most dire of times such as the Civil War, and World War I and the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918.
“Never in the history of the country, through wars and depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this November 3,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told a local TV stations in his home state Kentucky.
Kevin McCarthy, the top top Republican in the House, told reporters at a news briefing that “never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election”.
Former President Barack Obama weighed in as well making a broader point of voting rights at the funeral of John Lewis, the civil rights leader who passed away last week. “Even as we sit here, there are those in power are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting – by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”