The Possibility of Postponing the U.S. Presidential Election Day

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As it is known, the U.S. presidential elections are to be held on November 3, 2020. However, the coronavirus has affected the entire U.S. election process. Though the Democratic National Convention was scheduled to be held on July 13-16, the latter was postponed to August 17-20 taking into account the coronavirus epidemic. And the Republican National Convention is scheduled on August 24-27. After the Republican and Democratic Parties appoint their presidential nominees at the Conventions Donald Trump and Joe Biden will need to get 270 votes out of 538 electors to be elected president in the November election. The new president will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. 

However, discussions on the election day emerged when President Trump suggested in his tweet to postpone the November presidential election until people could vote “properly, securely and safely” as the mail-in voting, according to the president, would lead to “inaccurate and fraudulent” results. This is not the first time that the President has expressed his concern about possible fraudelence during the election. However, the President himself has no authority to change the election day, it can be done only with the consent of both Houses of the Congress.

Article 2 of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. A change in federal law is needed to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.

During the press briefing at the White House, the President once again mentioned that if the mail-in voting takes place, that will be the most rigged election in history. According to the president, he does not want to delay the elections, but he also does not want to wait for three months to find out that the ballots are all missing and the election does not mean anything. According to the president, this is what is going to happen.

Some critics of president Trump claim that he is trying to divert attention from the terrible news about the economy. The reason for this is that Mr. Trump posted to Twitter minutes after the Department of Commerce announced that the nation’s GDP fell 9.5 percent during the three months ending June 30, the largest quarterly drop on record.

The idea of a possible delay of the election was not supported among the Republicans. In particular, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “Never in the history of this country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time. We will find a way to do that again this November third.” The leader of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy gave a similar response: “Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” he said.  Even Trump ally Senator Lindsay Graham said that a delay was “not a good idea”. Meanwhile, the spokesman for Mr Trump’s re-election campaign, Hogan Gidley, said that Mr Trump had just been “raising a question”. Nevertheless, Trump rejected that out of hand, saying a few days later that he never even thought of changing the date of the election. November 3rd is a good number and he looks forward to that election.

Previously, there were also discussions of changing the date of general elections. It was reported in 2004 that some Bush administration officials had discussed putting in place a method of postponing a federal election in the event of a terrorist attack. But that idea fizzled quickly, and the then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said that the United States had held “elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time.”  Although the date of the presidential election is determined by federal law, the voting procedures are governed at the state level. That’s why the United States has such complicated voting regulations, with some states allowing early or absentee voting, some allowing voting by mail, or same day voter registration, while others require some forms of voter identification and many states do few or none of the above.