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On Thursday, President Trump shocked the nation when he took to Twitter to float the idea of “delaying” the 2020 election, warning that it would be “inaccurate” and “fraudulent” if the election was allowed to be conducted by mail-in vote. Not only are his predictions entirely baseless, the president of the United States — or the leader of any democracy in the world, for that matter — does not have the authority to delay an election just because he feels like it.
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???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
The president’s tweet is only the latest in a series of worryingly authoritarian sentiments from the president, who has been ratcheting up the white supremacist rhetoric while deploying federal agents to brutalize protesters in Portland. Despite the fact that Trump and most of his administration have voted by mail, he has seized on the right-wing conspiracies about voter fraud as an excuse to delegitimize the election, unwilling to accept the idea that he might lose fair and square.
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A Republican Congressman, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), became the first in his party to publicly condemn the president and vowed to oppose any attempt to delay the election.
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 30, 2020
Unfortunately, many of his prominent GOP colleagues do not share the same commitment to the Constitution:
Sen. Lindsey Graham told me this morning about Trump’s call to delay the election: “I don’t think that’s a particularly good idea.” He declined further comment.
“Not answering any questions,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, who is in a tough race, when I asked about Trump’s tweet.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 30, 2020
McConnell declines to answer reporters who asked him for his reaction to Trump's tweet floating an election delay, per @ericawerner (as part of our great Hill pool system)
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) July 30, 2020
Outrage immediately erupted online as prominent figures and citizens alike sounded the alarm at the thought of Trump pulling a fast one and using an illegal “delay” to stay longer in power.
We must take President Trump's attempt to undermine the faith in our republic seriously: This is what a authoritarians do. If Democrats lose the 2020 election Trump will not allow a free & fair election again. It is now or never.
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) July 30, 2020
quick reminder that absentee ballots and mail-in voting are virtually the same thing @realDonaldTrump
— CLAUDIA CONWAY (@claudiamconwayy) July 30, 2020
Kids can go to school, but we can’t vote?
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) July 30, 2020
oh dear, i was in a meeting this morning and just found out about this. and yes, oh dear, lol … not going to cower and be outraged and no one else shld. laughing in this collapsing loser's face. no delays. the president cannot delay an election. the law is coming. https://t.co/01h4CXE1sD
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 30, 2020
fact check: mail-in voting and absentee voting are exactly the same thing. fact check: you can't delay the election without a constitutional amendment. instead of fear-mongering, how about running on your record? you know: mass death, mass unemployment, mass infection, rioting…
— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) July 30, 2020
The U.S. Constitution mentions nothing about a president's ability to delay an election with a tweet.
Without reading the founding documents of the world's roughly 200 U.N. member states, I am going to go out on a limb and say no constitution does — in a democracy.
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) July 30, 2020
This is trump’s heart’s desire, expressed in a tweet. “Delay the election. It’s becoming clear, even to me, that I can’t win fairly, so let’s do away with the election.” pic.twitter.com/iwOgkdtJUN
— Linda says #BlackLivesMatter (@knittinglinda) July 30, 2020