Trump flags delaying presidential election but Republicans disagree

US President Donald Trump has raised the idea of delaying the November 3 election, an idea immediately rejected by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans.

Critics and even Mr Trump’s allies dismissed the notion as an non-serious attempt to distract from devastating economic news

The US Constitution gives Congress the power to set the timing of elections.

Multiple congressional Republicans – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top House of Representatives Republican Kevin McCarthy – rejected the idea.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” Mr McCarthy said.

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

“Under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the President’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic, or give credence to the lies and misinformation he spreads,” Ms Lofgren said in an email to Reuters.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter later on Thursday that Americans needed to know the election results on the night of the voting, not days or months later.

Mail-in ballots can sometimes take longer to count.

“Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting,” he tweeted.

The truly dangerous part of Mr Trump’s tweet on Thursday was not his suggestion of delaying the election – which is a “fantasy” – but his latest claim that voting by mail is rife with fraud, according to Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Marymount University and a constitutional law expert.

“This is yet another example of the president seeking to delegitimise the election process before it happens,” Mr Levitt said.

“That is deeply destabilising.”

-AAP

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