MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — America has never postponed a presidential election.
Not after 9/11. Not the Civil War. Or the Great Depression.
So a COVID-19 delay?
Hard to imagine — but it’s not impossible.
President Trump can’t legally, himself, take any action to stop an election because holding a presidential election day in November is the law — an 1845 law. And Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 is in the Constitution.
Congress and the president would have to pass a new law now changing the November date. And all 50 states would have to agree to change the Constitution for the January swearing in, which is highly unlikely.
But the disturbing scenes from Wisconsin, in which thousands of mask-wearing residents kept their distance and waited for hours in line to vote in person while exposing themselves to the coronavirus.
That’s sparking calls for change — like at-home voting by mail ballots.
“We have the know-how right now to make sure we use everything in our power to make it easy for people to vote,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said. “So they don’t have to choose between their health and their vote.”
Five states already have all-mail voting — Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Hawaii — and every state has some form of it.
In the 2016 presidential election, 41% voted early, or by absentee or by mail. Now, as COVID-19 grips the nation, 63% of Americans say they’re uncomfortable going into a voting booth during a pandemic.
President Trump says, without evidence, that voting by mail will mean massive fraud and he won’t support it.
“Mail ballots, they cheat … people cheat,” the President said Tuesday.” Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because they’re cheaters.”
In fact, documented evidence of voter fraud in the United States is extremely rare. Voting by mail presents many logistical and financial challenges, and it could open up new unanticipated concerns.
Even so, the president himself voted in Florida’s presidential primary this year by mail.
Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check: