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US elections: Republicans, Democrats dismiss Trump's idea of delaying elections

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US President Donald Trump’s suggestion to delay the presidential election scheduled for November was quickly dismissed by Republicans and Democrats alike on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Trump raised the question of delaying the election until “people can properly, securely and safely vote,” as he criticized universal mail-in voting.

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The president does not have the authority to make such a decision, according to the US Constitution. Congress “may” set a new date for the elections, but “this is different from changing or delaying just one election,” according to David Ramadan of the Schar School of Government at George Mason University.

If Congress were to change the date, it would mean changing the date for November’s elections as well as future presidential elections, Ramadan said. “If I were in Congress right now and read the Constitution, I would say that I do not have the authority to delay the elections,” Ramadan told Al Arabiya English.

Each state would have to certify their elections by Inauguration Day, which falls on January 20 at the Capitol building in Washington, DC. If this does not occur, the presidency is handed over to the Speaker of the House, Ramadan added. “The bottom line here is that there is ZERO chance of postponing the elections.”

Democratic US Representative Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House committee overseeing election security, rejected any delay.

In an email to Reuters, Lofgren told Reuters that Democrats would not consider delaying the elections “to accommodate the President’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

However, Trump’s campaign press secretary said that the president was “just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting.” Hogan Gidley, the press secretary, said that universal mail-in voting “invites chaos and severe delays in results.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s fellow Republicans suggested a delay was out of the question. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel was quoted as saying that the election date was “set in stone,” adding that presidential elections had been held during crises in the past.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, said that election fraud was a serious problem, but stopped short of supporting a delay in elections. “We need to fight it and stop it [election fraud]. But no, the election should not be delayed,” he said Thursday.

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- With Reuters