Orlando Advocate Editorial
With the unfounded pronouncement that vote-by-mail will cause this year’s election to be “the most inaccurate & fraudulent election in history,” President Trump tweeted today that the November election should be delayed– “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.”
It’s a very bad idea.
First, the President’s claims that mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud have no basis in fact. As reported by CBSNews, “[l]egal experts say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the U.S., and a database of election fraud cases compiled by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, shows few instances of absentee voter fraud in battleground states.”
Second, federal election dates are set by law. Congress has the power– given expressly by the Constitution– to set the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections. When it comes to presidential elections, a law passed in 1845 clearly provides that “the electors of president and vice president shall be appointed in each state on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed.”
The fact that he placed a question mark at the end of the suggestion is not in and of itself determinative of his intent. Trump has adopted the practice of governing by tweet. Questions turn into opinions which lead to lambasting and condemnation if not embraced. That perhaps explains the reaction of fellow Republican lawmakers to the tweet.
GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell somewhat surprisingly seemed to take offense to the President’s high-handed pronouncement (question?), saying that despite Trump’s tweet, Americans will be voting in November:
“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, and we’ll find a way to do that again this November 3,” McConnell said.
In a clear message to the President, although not directed specifically at him, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa told reporters the United States is a “country based on the rule of law, so nobody is going to change anything until we change the law.”
Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham and Mitt Romney also expressed concerns with the President’s call for an election delay, as did the House’s top Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Delaying the presidential election would set a terrible precedent that could push the nation over the precipice.
We fully expect to see the usual right-leaning journalists come to the President’s defense, explaining– as only they have a penchant for doing– why the President’s suggestion/question makes perfectly good sense. But no matter what, it will be hard to get around the door-closing issue of presidential succession.
Presidential succession is so important to the nation that it is embodied in the Constitution in Article II, Section 1, Clause 6; the 12th Amendment; the 20th Amendment; and the 25th Amendment, as well. Under the constitution, if a new president isn’t in office by noon of January 20, the Speaker of the House of Representatives would arguably become President– by operation of law.
For some, a President Nancy Pelosi (duly elected Speaker of the House) would be unquestionably preferable to an unelected, unconstitutional, President-by-fiat, Donald Trump.