Trump’s pitch to delay election is ‘absurd,’ suggests he could try to hold job if he loses, Maryland Dems say
Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
President Donald Trump’s pitch to delay the Nov. 3 presidential election “reeks of desperation” and is an ill-conceived attempt to smear the sort of mail-in voting that Maryland employed in its June primary, Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation said Thursday.
Trump should “cease his attempts to delegitimize mailed ballots and stop sowing discord over the integrity of our elections,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat.
Trump tweeted Thursday that the election might better be postponed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.” The Republican, who is seeking a second term, tweeted that universal mail-in voting would make it “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.”
There is no universal mail-in voting. Maryland is among the states offering voters the opportunity to vote by mail to keep citizens and election workers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The state will send applications for absentee ballots to all voters, and they can request one without providing a reason for not voting in person.
Trump has often said without evidence that there is widespread voter fraud during mail-in voting. Democrats counter that he is wary of voting by mail because it elevates voter turnout.
“Widespread voter fraud is a myth,” said Sarbanes, who called the election delay suggestion “absurd.”
Trump could not push back the election without an act of Congress, and even congressional leaders of the president’s party don’t support his idea.
In response to the president’s tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, tweeted part of a constitutional provision establishing congressional authority over the timing of the election.
“The president does not have the authority to move our elections, and they will take place as scheduled,” said Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
Van Hollen called Trump’s tweet “another desperate ploy to sow confusion and spread misinformation from a man who’s distraught over his poll numbers, which have continued to tank in response to his failed leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Both Maryland’s senators and seven of its eight House members are Democrats.
The only Republican, Rep. Andy Harris, did not return messages left Thursday with his aides. He represents parts of the counties of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford, as well as the Eastern Shore.
Ben Cardin, Maryland’s senior senator, said Trump may be trying to build a preemptive case that the election was “stolen.” Cardin said the tweet raises the specter that the president could try to hold onto the presidency even if he loses.
“That is extremely frightening,” Cardin said.
But the senator said Trump would lack support for anything other than the customary peaceful transition of power. The Constitution’s 20th Amendment mandates that the president be sworn in by noon Jan. 20.
While he still enjoys deep Republican support, Trump is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the former vice president, in many national polls.
Trump’s bid to delay the election “reeks of desperation,” tweeted Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County.
Maryland’s June 2 primary was the first statewide election in which ballots were mailed to each eligible, registered voter without them asking for one.
The Nov. 3 election will be different. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called on July 8 for every precinct to open on Election Day. He ordered the State Board of Elections to send every voter an application for a mail-in ballot, saying this will provide voters flexibility.
Local election directors have warned it would be impossible to staff such an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hogan has countered that widespread, in-person voting can work.
Hogan said Thursday afternoon that the president’s tweet was “not helpful” and questioned his motives. Speaking to Fox News host Neil Cavuto, the governor said: “It’s just another opportunity to cause mass pandemonium and people arguing back and forth, and it’s the last thing we need right now.”