Texas politicians on Thursday pushed back on the idea of delaying November’s general election after a startling tweet from President Donald Trump floating the proposal.
Trump baselessly claimed in a Thursday morning tweet that an increase in mail-in voting nationwide due to the COVID-19 outbreak would result in fraud and said the United States should “Delay the Election.”
Politicians in both parties swiftly rejected the idea of any delay in the election. Any change in the date would require an act of Congress.
Both of Texas’ Republican senators and governor added to the chorus of voices shooting down any talk of a delay.
"Texas has adopted procedures and guidelines to ensure safe and fair elections, including extending the early in-person voting period, and the elections in Texas will occur on November 3rd,” said Gov. Greg Abbott in a statement from his spokesman.
“Election fraud is a serious problem. We need to fight it and stop it. But no, the election should not be delayed,” said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who is on the ballot this fall, said he thought it was a joke but was then matter of fact about Trump's ability to move the date.
“Obviously he doesn’t have the power to do that,” Cornyn said.
Trump's tweet came just minutes after the government reported that the U.S. economy shrank at a dizzying 32.9% annual rate in the April-June quarter, by far the worst quarterly plunge ever, as the coronavirus outbreak shut down businesses, threw tens of millions out of work and sent unemployment surging to 14.7%.
“Trump’s threat is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distract from today’s devastating economic numbers that make it clear his failed response to the coronavirus has tanked the U.S. economy and caused tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs,” a Democratic National Committee spokesperson said.
Constitutional law expert David Coale says no president has the authority to do what Trump wants.
“The president can’t just say I want to have an election on a different day so I can just stay in office or have an election that’s more favorable. Congress gets to make that decision in our system,” Coale said.
He thinks the president was testing the waters.
“He's exploring how much latitude he may have there, to try to do some things with the process that could be favorable for him when the final vote tally is made,” Coale said.
With just over three months until Election Day, Trump trails in the polls nationally and across battleground states, and some surveys even suggest traditionally Republican-leaning states could be in play – including Texas. Recent polling shows the presidential race a dead heat in the typically red state.
While Trump has come back before after trailing consistently in the polls throughout 2016, the survey data has raised the possibility that he could face a landslide loss if he doesn't turn things around.
Trump has increasingly sought to cast doubt on November's election and the expected pandemic-induced surge in mail-in and absentee voting. He has called remote voting options the "biggest risk" to his reelection. His campaign and the Republican Party have sued to combat the practice, which was once a significant advantage for the GOP.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting and the states that use it exclusively say they have necessary safeguards in place to ensure that a hostile foreign actor doesn't disrupt the vote. Election security experts say that all forms of voter fraud are rare, including absentee balloting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.