Washington — President Trump's suggestion that the November general election be delayed due to unfounded concerns vote-by-mail will lead to voter fraud received rare pushback from many Republicans on Capitol Hill who say the election will proceed on November 3 as planned.
"We've had elections during wars. We've had elections during depressions. We've had elections during civil unrest," GOP Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told reporters on Capitol Hill. "We should have our election when it's scheduled in November, and I'm sure we will."
Alexander joked that one deterrent for moving the election could be the 20th Amendment, which states the president's term expires at noon on January 20.
"If we were to delay the election past January 20, the president would be the speaker of the House," he said. "So, I wonder if anyone's thought about that. I'm just going to go check the Constitution to make sure I didn't misread it."
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa told reporters the United States is a "country based on the rule of law, so nobody is going to change anything until we change the law."
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, said the "election will be held on the date set by Congress," while Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said the election should not be delayed. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said moving the date of the election "wouldn't be a good idea."
In the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the chamber's top Republican, said while he understands Mr. Trump's concerns about mail-in voting, "never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election, and we should go forward with our election."
The sentiment was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who told WNKY in an interview Americans would vote in November.
"Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we'll find a way to do that again this November 3," the Kentucky Republican said.
The president ramped up his attacks on vote-by-mail as the coronavirus began rapidly spreading across the United States in March, upending the 2020 presidential campaign and causing more than a dozen states to postpone their primary elections. State election officials also began exploring ways to expand vote-by-mail to ensure Americans could cast their ballots without the risk of becoming infected.
But in a first for the president, Mr. Trump suggested earlier Thursday that the date of the election be moved "until people can properly, securely and safely vote."
The president decried vote-by-mail and claimed this year's election "will be the most inaccurate & fraudulent election in history."
But Mr. Trump does not have the power to move the date of the election, as it is set by federal law. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to set the "times, places and manner" of congressional elections and a law passed in 1845 states "the electors of president and vice president shall be appointed in each state on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed."
A 2004 report from the Congressional Research Service states that "while the Executive Branch has significant delegated authority regarding some aspects of election law, this authority does not currently extend to setting or changing the times of elections."
Mr. Trump's claims that mail-in voting would lead to voter fraud are not supported. Legal experts say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S., and a database of election fraud cases compiled by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, shows few instances of absentee voter fraud in battleground states.