INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,

Trump floats idea of delaying the November election, a power granted to Congress, as he ramps up attacks on voting by mail

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, several states have begun preparations for vote-by-mail options in the 2020 election. (Blair Guild/The Washington Post)
John Wagner and
Amy Gardner

President Trump on Thursday floated the prospect of delaying the November election, as he ramped up his attacks on mail-in voting, claiming without evidence that its widespread use would be a “catastrophic disaster” that could lead to fraudulent results.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The U.S. Constitution gives the power to regulate the “time, place and manner” of elections to the U.S. House and Senate, with Congress also empowered to alter the rules. Nowhere is the president granted such power.

In addition, the Constitution spells out a hard end to a president’s term on Jan. 20 in the year following a presidential election.

President Trump stops to talk to reporters as he walks to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House on Wednesday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Trump’s tweet came shortly after a report was released showing the U.S. economy shrank 9.5 percent from April through June, the largest quarterly decline since the government began publishing data 70 years ago, and the latest, sobering reflection of the pandemic’s economic devastation.

It was not clear from Trump’s tweets whether he intends to ask Congress to move the date of the election or if he believes he can act on his own.

As more states have turned to mail-in voting in response the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine the method, often with unsubstantiated claims. He has attacked mail voting nearly 70 times since late March in interviews, remarks and tweets, including at least 17 times this month, according to a tally by The Washington Post.

Trump has also argued that mail-in voting tends to hurt Republicans at the ballot box.

Democrats quickly suggested that Trump’s suggestion reflected a realization that he could lose to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who has been leading in national and many battleground state polls.

“Donald Trump is terrified,” tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is among those being considered as a running mate for Biden. “He knows he’s going to lose to @JoeBiden. It will require every single one of us to make that happen.We will see you at the ballot box on November 3rd, @realDonaldTrump.”

Amy Gardner and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.