By WILL STEAKIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — In a remarkable move by a sitting president, President Donald Trump for the first time Thursday morning suggested delaying the presidential election over his persistent false attacks that mail-in voting would lead to the “most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.”
“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???” the tweet reads.
It’s not within the power of the president to delay the election. That would need to go through Congress, and the president appears to be the only one floating this extreme measure months out from November.
This could be a distraction for Trump, whose threat follows an unfavorable report out Thursday that the U.S. economy contracted at a record-shattering 32.9% last quarter. It also comes amid poor polling numbers on his handling of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and on the same morning of the funeral for late Rep. John Lewis, who devoted his life to voting rights.
Trump in April was asked about delaying the election amid the coronavirus and said: “I never even thought of changing the date of the election.”
“Why would I do that? November 3. It’s a good number. I look forward to that election,” he said at the time.
Trump’s likely opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, predicted at an April virtual fundraiser that Trump would try 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,” he said.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, also didn’t rule out possibly delaying the election when asked in May saying, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.”
Election experts have said that mail-in voting presents potential risks that are different from in-person voting, but there isn’t any evidence of widespread fraud with the use of mail ballots.
“Mail ballot fraud is incredibly rare, and legitimate security concerns can be easily addressed,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, a non-partisan law and policy think tank.
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