Thursday, July 30, U.S. President Donald trump offered to postpone the presidential elections scheduled for November 3, saying that the increase in the number of voting by mail because of the pandemic coronavirus will lead to fraud, according to AP.
This is the first time trump has publicly voiced the idea to cancel the vote. The postponement of the elections virtually impossible, but a simple sentence postponement was unusual for a country where the peaceful transfer of power took place including during the civil war, the great depression and the Second world war.
Date of presidential elections — Tuesday after first Monday in November every fourth year — is enshrined in Federal law and require changes in the act of Congress. The Constitution does not contain provisions on the extension of the presidential term, trump next noon 20 Jan 2021.
“Given the universal vote by mail, the election 2020 will be the most false and fraudulent in history. It would be a huge shame for the United States. [Update] to postpone the election so people can vote properly, safely and securely???” — reads the tweet trump.
Only five States hold elections exclusively by mail, although by November due to the ongoing pandemic more States expect to partially rely on this method of voting. In California announced plans mailing ballots to all registered for the fall election voters, but they will have the opportunity to vote in person.
Trump’s tweet came a few minutes after the government reported that the U.S. economy in the second quarter fell to a record 32.9 percent, which is the worst quarterly decline in history since the outbreak of the coronavirus led to a halt of business and increase unemployment to 14.7%.
Just three months before election Day, the ranking of trump is not too high in the polls across the country and in some States, including traditionally-minded prorepublican. Survey data showed a high possibility that trump may suddenly lose the electorate, if not to change anything.
The President of the United States is increasingly trying to cast doubt on the elections in November and the accuracy of remote voting. This kind of voting, he called the “biggest risk” to his re-election. His campaign team and the Republican party sued to combat this practice, which was once a significant advantage for the party. In June, trump said during a speech in Arizona: “It will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt elections in the history of our country.”
Meanwhile, there is no evidence of widespread fraud by voting by mail, and States that use it say they have the necessary precautions to ensure safety. Security experts elections say that all forms of fraud among voters in the US are rare, including absentee voting.
Most States are still preparing their plans for November. A small number of States sent to voters ballots during the primaries, but in most States will not do this in November. Voters will have to request the possibility of absentee voting, if you want to do it at home.
Voters and the public health authorities expressed concern about the potential danger of the virus spreading during the on-site vote, and the States reported difficulties in filling jobs in a pandemic.
Leading Republicans in Congress quickly rejected the proposal of trump to postpone the election. The majority leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell stated that the date of elections appointed for sure, and the leader of the Republican party Kevin McCarthy said the elections “should take place” as planned.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said that the elections will be held as planned, “will be legitimate and people should be confident in this.”
The Democratic speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi responded to trump’s tweet, posting a quote from the Constitution, under which Congress is authorized to define the electoral process.
Republican Governor Chris Sununu of new Hampshire also quickly responded to the idea of trump: “make No mistake: elections will be held in new Hampshire on 3 November. End of story. Our voting system is safe and secure. We did it right 100% of the time for 100 years — this year will be no exception.”
Hogan Gigli, national press Secretary of the campaign trump pointed to delays in the counting of votes in the primary election in new York.
“The President raises a question about the chaos that Democrats created with their persistence in the vote by mail. They are using a coronavirus as a means to try to establish universal voting by mail, which means sending to each registered voter of the ballot, regardless of whether he asked it or not,” said Gigli.
Trump and many members of his administration previously used by absentee voting, but trump was trying to differentiate it from the growing pressure from the States on mailing to all registered voters or the ballot papers or forms for absentee voting.
“He has absolutely no authority to do so, said Wendy Weiser, Director of democracy programme in the heart of justice Brennan’s law school at new York University. Is just a way to wreak havoc”.
Just a few months ago, in April, trump ruled out the possibility of changing the election date after his rival, Democrat Joe Biden predicted that trump would do it.
“I never even thought about changing the election date, he said. — Why would I do that? Third Nov. This is a good date. No, I’m looking forward to these elections. To change the date, I do not think.”
Even earlier, in March, trump has opposed efforts by several States to postpone the presidential primaries because of the coronavirus.
Does it trump the right and legal possibility to postpone the election?
The answer is perfectly clear: no.
Let’s start with the Constitution: “the Congress may determine the time of election of electors, and the day when they shall give their votes; this day will be the same throughout the United States,” quotes Bloomberg.
The founding document reflects a clear judgment that Congress, not the running of the President, decides on the choice of the leader of the United States. If the President could set the time of his election, it could indicate favorable date — or defer to a specified date until the conditions will not be suitable.
The Congress exercises power given by the Constitution. The law, enacted in 1948, reads as follows:
“The electors of President and Vice-President should be appointed in each state on Tuesday following the first Monday in November, in every fourth year, which follows every election of a President and Vice-President.”
The curious reader may respond: these provisions relate to the selection of members of the electoral College. What does this have to vote?
The answer is that everything is inextricably linked. In accordance with the Constitution, of course, the winner of the election is the candidate who gains the highest number of votes in the electoral College. Each state is allocated a number of voters whose votes usually are provided (in accordance with the laws of the state) to the candidate who won the popular vote in the state.
In practice, an indication by Congress of “the time of the appointment of electors” is also a time for the popular vote. It is true that Congress could change the date. But since the Democrats control the House of representatives, it is not very likely (unless the circumstances will be much worse).
And even if Congress decides to do, it’s not much help Trump. According to the 20th amendment, “the term of office of the President and Vice President ends at noon of the 20th of January.” This means that after the expiration of the four-year term President who was not re-elected, should leave his post.
Point? Not really. Has long been debated whether the President has some inherent “emergency power”. Trump seems to think that he has this power (and even more). But the Constitution explicitly gives the President anything like that.
Most interesting in this respect, the Supreme court decision known as the “case of Youngstown steel”, and it is one of the most important in the history of the country. In 1952, President Harry Truman issued a Directive on the control of the steel mills in the United States, claiming that a possible strike on them could lead to a national catastrophe in the midst of the Korean war.
In a nationwide appeal to Truman explained: “Our national security and our chances for peace depend on our defense production. Our defense depends on the production of steel”.
By law, the government argued that in accordance with the Constitution, Truman has “inherent power” to do what he did — the power which, in his opinion, “supported by the Constitution, historical precedent and judicial decisions.””
The Supreme court flatly rejected this argument. He said: “the Founders of this country have entrusted the lawmaking power to the Congress in both good times and bad. There is no point mentioning the historical events, the fears of power and the hopes for freedom that underlie their choice.”
We cannot exclude the possibility that lawyers trump will lead the constitutional argument that would support what he wants to do or he will ignore legal restrictions on their powers. In this case, the country may be a constitutional crisis and to meet with authoritarianism in its defining form.