WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House and Donald Trump’s campaign on Sunday sought to shut down the Republican president’s musings on delaying the 2020 vote, saying there will be an election on Nov. 3.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump was raising concerns about mail-in ballots when he floated the idea of delaying the U.S. vote.
“We’re going to hold an election on November 3 and the president is going to win,” Meadows said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Presidential campaign adviser Jason Miller echoed the sentiment on “Fox News Sunday,” saying, “The election is going to be on November 3rd and President Trump wants the election to be on November 3rd.”
Trump on Thursday suggested delaying the U.S. elections, an idea immediately rejected by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in Congress – the sole branch of government with the authority to make such a change.
Critics and even Trump’s allies dismissed the notion as an unserious attempt to distract from devastating economic news, but some legal experts warned that his repeated attacks could undermine his supporters’ faith in the election process.
The Republican president has been trying to undermine confidence in mail-in balloting, claiming repeatedly and without evidence that it would lead to widespread voter fraud.
Meadows took up his boss’s cause on Sunday, warning that mail-in ballots must be handled properly without providing evidence that they have not been in the past.
Asked if it were irresponsible for Trump to float the idea, Meadows skirted the question, saying “It is responsible for him to say that if we try to go to 100% universal mail-in ballots, will we have an election result on November 3? Now I would suggest we wouldn’t even have it on January 1.”
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday the election should be held on time and it was up to states to ensure balloting be carried out properly.
“It’s not helpful for the president to think out loud in a public fashion and express some frustration,” he added.
The coronavirus crisis is expected to drive a surge in mail voting in November. State election officials are working to ensure tens of millions of ballots can reach voters in time to be cast and are returned in time to be counted.
Miller criticized efforts by states including Nevada for moving toward expanding mail-in balloting during emergencies like the coronavirus epidemic, as well as other states that will count ballots postmarked Nov. 3 that arrive after Election Day.
Trump early Sunday called for a lawsuit to be filed to counter Nevada’s legislative efforts to extend mail-in balloting. “This is outrageous. Must be met with immediate litigation!,” he said in a Twitter post.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)