The president has been laying the groundwork about de-legitimizing the election for a few months now
The president has been laying the groundwork about de-legitimizing the election for a few months now
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

In a move that we probably should all have seen coming, Trump has suggested that the US should delay their November election because of "fraudulent" mail-in voting.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that allowing people to vote by post results in "tremendous fraud", despite a lack of evidence to back this up.

He has, however, voted by post himself, such as during the Florida 2020 primary election.

Delaying the election would be an unprecedented move in United States history and is not something Trump is personally authorised to do.

Election Day is set by Congress and cannot be changed without its approval.

Attacking the legitimacy of the upcoming election has been a key part of Trump's campaign as he trails behind Joe Biden in the polls. Trump has previously claimed that allowing people to vote by mail risks "thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody's living room, signing ballots all over the place". (Again, there is no evidence of this.)

Six US states are planning to hold "all-mail" ballots in November, while others want to make voting easier because of public health concerns. Of course, Trump has no qualms about risking public health to pedal baseless conspiracy theories, most horrifyingly by recommending people inject bleach into their lungs as a coronavirus treatment.

Trump's call to delay the election is so typical of his presidency, that Joe Biden reportedly predicted it. According to CNN, Biden said in April:

Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held.

Aside from advancing his largely baseless claims about mail-in voting, Trump's call to delay the election flies in the face of the US's democratic processes.

Presidential elections have been held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November during every election cycle since 1845. This means in practice that elections always take place between 2nd November and 8th November.

According to Trump's former national security advisor, John Bolton, Trump has long held fantasies of extending his presidency beyond the normal term.

In his book, The Room Where It Happened, Bolton alleged that Trump expressed an interest in serving more than two terms to China's president Xi Jinping.

Xi said he wanted to work with Trump for six more years, and Trump replied that people were saying that the two-term constitutional limit on presidents should be repealed for him.

Xi said the US had too many elections, because he didn’t want to switch away from Trump, who nodded approvingly.

People are horrified by Trump's suggestion that the election should be delayed.

Some also speculated as to his true motivation.

Others pointed out a possible unintended consequence.

(The legality of this is dubious, given that Trump can't delay the election anyway.)

The timing of Trump's tweet is also interesting, given that just 16 minutes earlier it was revealed that the US GDP plunged a record 33 per cent in the second quarter.

Obviously, a solid economic record is pretty important for winning elections.

Finally, some people want to know whether Trump is alone in his opinion that the election should be delayed.

Senators are being asked for their reaction to the president's explosive claim.

Without some enormous and as of yet unforeseen catastrophe happening (although, knowing 2020...) the US presidential election will go ahead on 3 November.

The coronavirus pandemic wasn't enough to stop it from happening, so Trump's conspiracy theories about voter fraud certainly won't.

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