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Trump Floats Delaying The Election. It Would Require A Change In Law

President Trump signs energy permits in Midland, Texas, on Wednesday.
President Trump signs energy permits in Midland, Texas, on Wednesday.

Updated at 9:48 a.m. ET

President Trump mused about delaying this year's election on Thursday based on unsupported conspiracy theorizing about the integrity of voting during the coronavirus disaster.

In a Twitter post, Trump repeated what has become a pet theme of his about the prospect of inaccuracies or fraud with mail-in voting.

Trump does not have the power himself to move the date of the election, which was set by an 1845 federal law placing it the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

The date could move theoretically with action by Congress — but that would require agreement both by the Democrats who control the House and the Republicans who control the Senate.

In short, it is extremely unlikely.

It wasn't immediately clear how seriously official Washington or state leaders might treat Trump's notion about moving the date of the election or whether the notion might lapse, as other Trump suggestions sometimes do.

The White House and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Additionally, there is no nationwide turn to universal mail-in voting and as much as half of the electorate is still expected to cast ballots in person. While he draws a distinction between mail-in and absentee voting, there is essentially no difference.

Suggestion follows bad economic news

Trump's tweet followed about 15 minutes after news of the worst-ever-recorded quarterly performance of the American economy.

Trump has trailed his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in recent polls and is seen as needing to make up ground against him in states considered key to this year's race, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.

In late April, Biden told donors in a fundraiser: "Mark my words, I think [Trump] is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held."

A few days later, Trump responded: "I never even thought of changing the date of the election. Why would I do that? November 3rd. It's a good number. No, I look forward to that election."

With reporting by NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe

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