President Trump took the extraordinary step Thursday morning of openly suggesting in a tweet the possibility that the 2020 election, set for November 3 – 96 days from now – should be delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has previously sought to stoke fear and lay the groundwork to question the election’s results by promoting the idea that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud and a “rigged” election. The tweet comes as a spate of recent polling in battleground states – and even states he won handily in 2016 – show him trailing or tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, and widespread disapproval of his handling of the pandemic.
Asked about the issue in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr said he had “no reason to think” that the upcoming election will be “rigged.” But he did say he believes that “if you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.”
But historically, voting by mail has not led to massive voter fraud. And nonpartisan election experts say the possibility of foreign entities printing millions of fraudulent mail-in ballots this November is highly unlikely.
A key point here: The President does not have the power to change the date of the election. Election Day is set by Congressional statute, and most experts agree that it cannot be changed without Congressional approval.
Biden has previously raised the possibility of Trump attempting to delay the election.
“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,” Biden said at a virtual fundraiser in April, according to a pool report. Biden has maintained the November election should not be postponed and has previously made similar comments.