WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested an unprecedented delay to the 2020 election, in which he is currently behind in the polls, claiming that attempts to provide safe voting during the pandemic will lead to mass fraud.
“Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump asked in a tweet.
“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,” the tweet said.
The United States has never delayed a presidential election, holding one even during the Civil War.
In any case, a delay this time is unlikely to happen. Only Congress can change the election date, which by law is held on the first Tuesday after November 1, and Democrats rule the lower House. This year s elections are set for November 3.
Trump has previously insisted that he sees no problem going ahead with the election, where he faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
The coronavirus pandemic remains out of control in swaths of the United States, including most recently in Republican-led states like Florida and Texas.
During the presidential primary contests earlier this year, several states delayed voting or opened fewer polling sites.
In addition, major sporting events have been canceled or curtailed and there are serious doubts across much of the country over whether schools and universities will reopen in September.
Little evidence for fraud
But as the general election date approaches, Trump has bitterly resisted Democratic-led attempts to increase availability of mail-in voting, saying that this will promote fraud and that Americans should line up at the polls as usual.
His opponents say there is no evidence of meaningful fraud in US elections and rather that more effort is needed to improve the complicated logistics of mail-in voting.
Trump, a real estate magnate who came to power with a surprise win over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, has spent much of his first term challenging the norms of the White House and he is the first president to seek reelection after having been impeached.
Democrats have grown increasingly suspicious of Trump s intentions as polls show him being beaten squarely in a string of must-win swing states.
In April, Biden accused Trump of trying to “kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can t be held.”
Adding to the sense of uncertainty, fears of the coronavirus have required upending a host of presidential campaign traditions. Trump has had to give up for now his plans for frequent mass rallies and Biden is campaigning largely from his Delaware home.