United States President Donald Trump on Thursday backtracked on his suggestion to delay the 2020 presidential election and said he does want America to vote but he does not want to wait for three months only to find out the “ballots are all missing”, PTI reported. Trump has argued that voting through mail leads to inaccurate counting or fraud.
“I don’t want to delay,” the president told reporters. “I want to have the election. But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything.”
Trump had earlier floated the idea to delay the poll, which is due in November, arguing that the election would become the “the most inaccurate and fraudulent” in history. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” he had said. “Delay the election until people can properly, securely and safely vote?”
The president had pointed to delayed vote counts and rejected absentee ballots to back his claim. He has often criticised mail-in voting, or postal voting, in the past but has not provided any proof of fraud so far.
The presidential election date in the US statutorily is set as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” equalling “the first Tuesday after November 1”.
Senior politicians criticised Trump for his suggestion, while others pointed out that it was a breach of America’s democratic norms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, responded to the president with a tweet quoting the Constitution of United States that gives the Congress the authority to “determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their vote.”
Majority Whip Senator John Thune, a member of Republican leadership, said that there will be an election in November despite Trump’s tweet. “I think we’ve had elections every November since about 1788, and I expect that will be the case again this year,” he said.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee also said he was confident the poll would be held as per schedule. “We’ve had elections during wars,” he added. “We’ve had elections during depressions. We’ve had elections during civil unrest. We should have our election when it’s scheduled in November, and I’m sure we will.”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a large number of Americans are expected to opt for mail-in voting to avoid standing in line and going to a polling booth. At least six states in the US have planned to hold “all mail” elections in November. California, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, Oregon and Washington will send postal ballots to registered voters. They will then fill it in and send them back or drop it off on election day. Half the states in the US permit any voter to vote by post on request.
The United States has been affected the worst by the coronavirus pandemic. There are currently 44.96 lakh infections and 1.52 lakh deaths due to Covid-19 in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins University.