Campaign Legal Center: “No, Trump Doesn’t Have the Authority to Delay the Election”

In a statement, Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a former Republican Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, responded to President Donald Trump’s suggestion to delay the November election.

“The President does not have the authority to delay the election. Federal law mandates that the General Election take place on the first Tuesday of November. Suggesting the possibility of moving the General Election is an extraordinary statement from a sitting President and is sure to create confusion amongst voters about presidential powers in relation to the election,” Potter said.

He added: “The country has voted in general elections in the middle of a Civil War, two World Wars and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, not to mention the Great Depression. Delay of the November election would violate both federal law and the Constitution. It is critical that members of Congress from both parties forcefully condemn Trump’s statement.”

Potter concluded that Congress “has the responsibility to make sure that the election takes place safely and smoothly, and that requires the Senate to include funding for state election activities in the coronavirus bill they are currently debating so that states can be prepared to handle a surge in mail voting for November.”

Earlier today, the president suggested the election should be delayed to halt mail-in ballot fraud.

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

There is no evidence that mail-in ballot fraud is widespread.

The president and Republicans have repeatedly disparaged vote-by-mail options in response to criticisms from voting rights advocates who’ve expressed safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

A study released in April from Stanford University’s Democracy and Polarization Lab found that contrary to the widely-held belief among the GOP that vote-by-mail gives Democrats an advantage over Republicans, vote-by-mail options do not benefit one party more than another.

“By comparing counties that adopt a vote-by-mail program to counties within the same state that do not adopt the program, we are able to compare the election outcomes and turnout behavior of voters who have different vote-by-mail accessibility but who have the same set of candidates on the ballot for statewide races,” researchers wrote.

The president has in the past threatened to withhold federal funding from states that provide residents with vote-by-mail options, as he threatened Michigan earlier this spring when state officials announced that all state residents would receive applications for absentee ballots.