Republicans on the Hill remain doubtful of the proposal’s feasibility
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to complicate and frustrate existing systems of bureaucracy, Washington lawmakers and election experts have suggested requiring mail-in ballots for all voters to prevent disease transmission at voting polls on Election Day.
But President Donald Trump has not shied away from his insistence for in-person voting over universal mail-in voting, tweeting on Thursday, July 30 that he’d like to delay the 2020 election, a decision on which the president holds no authority. (Earlier this year, Trump had cast his own ballot in the primary election by mail-in ballot.)
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” the president tweeted less than 100 days before the election. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
According to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, Congress holds the authority to “determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their vote.
But Trump’s concerns over the expected delay in tallying up votes were mirrored by postal workers and union leaders who expressed concern over newly-imposed procedures that have resulted in delays in mail delivery, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The current backlog, postal workers fear, will carry on as the election draws closer to the point where they won’t locate every voter’s ballot in time for them to be processed. In early July, the new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter and donor, released a memo that announced new cost-cutting measures that created “temporary service impacts,” the USPS said in a statement.
According to the memo, the new measures included terminating overtime, including trips made outside work hours or extra trips, which the memo says would save the financially struggling postal service $200 million.
“To be clear, however, and despite any assertions to the contrary, we are not slowing down Election Mail or any other mail. Instead, we continue to employ a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all Election Mail consistent with our standards,” USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer told CNN on Thursday.
Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, has maintained that the USPS is in dire need of emergency funding from the government, especially as the pandemic continues to worsen across the country and letter carriers continue to work despite the increased risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
“If the funding doesn’t come through, everything we do, including vote by mail will be much harder,” Dimondstein told CNN earlier this month.
Currently, many areas of the U.S. are experiencing a two-day delay or worse in mail delivery, even expedited deliveries. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) detailed new procedures in early July
In June, the State of New York allowed voters to vote by mail for the Democratic primary election, but there have been long delays in tallying up the ballots; as of press time, the results are still unknown.
Trump’s initial announcement came as a shock to lawmakers, especially top Republicans on Capitol Hill who found themselves scrambling for a response.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.), with whom the president has in the past both sparred and concurred, insisted the election will be held as planned on Tuesday, November 3, but did not specify whether he favors in-person voting or mail-in voting.
“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally-scheduled election on time. We’ll find a way to do that again this November 3,” McConnell told WKNY.
Other top GOP members like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) mirrored the president’s sentiments with Rubio expressing regrets on Twitter over the president’s announcement, saying, “I wish he hadn’t said that but it’s not going to change: We are going to have an election in November and people should have confidence in it.”
Notably, Fox News, which has staunchly and openly supported the president, denounced his proposal to delay the election.
Chris Stirewalk, politics editor at Fox News said on a Thursday broadcast that Trump’s proposal “is a fragrant and flagrant expression of his current weakness. A person who is in a strong position would never, never suggest anything like that. So Trump may be making a tactical error here by further telegraphing his weak position in the polls and his weak position for re-election.”
But on Friday, July 31, Trump doubled down on his position, insisting the likelihood of voter fraud would increase if vote-by-mail replaced in-person voting.
“It’ll be fixed, it will be rigged. People ought to be smart,” Trump said at a roundtable discussion, repeating the unsubstantiated claim that universal mail-in voting would increase voter fraud.
The president provided no empirical evidence or any form of proof on his statement, saying that the 2020 election “is going to be the greatest election disaster in history.”
Trump also referenced the current backlog in the USPS, adding, “they think they’re going to send hundreds of millions of ballots all over the United States and it’s gonna come out. You won’t know the election results for weeks, months, maybe years after. Maybe you’ll never know the election result, and that’s what I’m concerned with.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)