Why Trump Has No Power to Delay the 2020 Election

Why Trump Has No Power to Delay the 2020 Election

  • We answer some key questions about holding elections in a crisis.
  • And no, the president cannot cancel an election on his own.

President Trump, who is trailing badly in polling of the race for the White House, suggested on Thursday that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.” Even for him, floating the idea of postponing the election was an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum.

But the president does not have the authority to move the date of a federal election. And Mr. Trump’s other claim on Thursday, that widespread mail-in voting would make the election “inaccurate and fraudulent,” is false.

Here are answers to some key questions about holding elections in a crisis.

No.

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.