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Trump Today: Could Trump delay the election? No — but Congress could

Trump Today

President Donald Trump

Associated Press

President Donald Trump tweeted a suggestion on Thursday to delay the November election, repeating an allegation that more mail-in voting would result in fraud.

Delay the election? Can he do that?

The short answer is: No. Not by himself.

Changing the dates of federal elections would be up to Congress. It’s in the Constitution, which gives lawmakers the power to “determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes.”

Opinion:It’s not too late to save Election Day from chaos.

And as experts quickly pointed out after Trump’s tweet, the dates of federal elections are set in federal law, as the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This year, that’s Nov. 3.

U.S. stock-index futures headed lower following Trump’s tweet, which came following a grim report on the U.S. economy. As MarketWatch reported, the economy shrank at a record 32.9% annual pace in the second quarter, underscoring how big a hole the U.S. finds itself in as it labors to recover from the deepest recession in American history. By mid-morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average

was off more than 480 points.

Now see:U.S. economy suffers titanic 32.9% plunge in 2nd quarter, GDP shows, and points to drawn-out recovery.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting. Still, Trump claimed, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.”

Opinion:Here’s the truth about mail-in voting: fair, safe and honest.

There are a few other important election dates to remember, as law professor Derek Muller wrote this spring in the Wall Street Journal. Electors will gather on Dec. 14 (the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December) to formally cast votes for president and vice president. Congress will then count those electoral votes in a joint session on Jan. 6.

“There is no statutory authority for the president to postpone any of those dates,” Muller wrote. He noted any postponement would have to occur through a federal statute, passed by the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate before Election Day.

Muller thus calls it “theoretically possible” to delay a presidential election by a few weeks. But as he notes, the Constitution’s 20th Amendment is clear that a president’s term ends on Jan. 20.

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