With polls against him, Trump suggests delaying election alleging mail-in voting fraud
With US President Donald Trump trailing behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in multiple polls, the coming elections in November have been looking bad for the incumbent president. Now, Trump seeks to delay the elections, alleging that the universal mail-in voting system would be ripe with fraud and that the elections should be held when it is safe to do so.
Tweeting on Thursday morning, shortly after data was released showing that the US economy had contracted 32.9 per cent in the second quarter of this year, Trump 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???” in a tweet that he has since pinned.
Vote-by-mail has of late gained in adoption across the US amidst the necessity of social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the US harder than it has any other country. There are two kinds of vote-by-mail: Universal vote-by-mail—where the government mails ballots to all voters—and absentee balloting, where voters request permission from the state to cast their vote by mail or by fax.
Trump has been claiming for a while that the mail-in voting system would result in voter fraud—in June he alleged that the 2020 elections are “rigged” and that “millions” of mail-in ballots would be printed by foreign countries. “IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES,” he had tweeted.
US Attorney General William Barr—who was nominated to his post by Trump in 2018—had also said that while there was no reason the coming elections would be “rigged”, wholesale mail-in voting “substantially increases the risk of fraud”.
Independent experts have questioned the suggestion, citing historical data to say that absentee voting does not result in fraud. Both the Brookings institute and the Brennan Center for Justice have stated that there is no evidence that mail balloting increases fraud; fact-checkers like Politifact have also repeatedly debunked conservative claims that absentee ballots had led to millions of votes ending up in landfills, or that hundreds of thousands would file fake ballots.
Trump cannot by himself delay the election, however, and such a move would require the approval of Congress, where the Democrats control the lower house.