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Op-ed

Trump Can’t Change Election Day, But His Suggestion is Alarming

President Trump proposed moving the election date until voting could occur in person. The proposal came after he deemed mail in ballots “rigged.” 

There are a couple of reasons why Trump wants to avoid mail in ballots. The primary reason is that Democrats are more skeptical about voting in person. Many Democratic voters won’t risk their health and safety for votes. But, many Trump voters would. For Trump voters, 36-44% feel very comfortable voting in person, while 9-15% of Biden voters feel equally comfortable. In mail in polls, Biden takes the lead over Trump every time. With more voters voting by mail, this could spell trouble for Trump’s re-election chances. 

In comparison to 2016, Trump has a more difficult time attacking Biden. While former candidate Hillary Clinton had ongoing scandals like her emails, Biden lacks the same issues. The lack of these issues make Biden more trustworthy and make his leads in polls more steady. So, Trump looks toward issues like Biden’s mental health and mail-in ballots to justify his losses. 

When Trump mentioned changing election day, even his most steady supporters abandoned him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy both agreed election day should stay in place. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said delaying the election “probably wouldn’t be a good idea.” 

Democrats agree. So, that means changing election day isn’t likely. For election day to move, Congress must approve a new resolution prior to November 3rd. Considering that most representatives and senators are opposed, this won’t happen. 

But, Trump’s suggestion is alarming. The United States was founded on peaceful transitions of power. The transition of power was a direct contradiction to monarchies in Europe. In the 1800 election, John Adams, a Federalist, willingly left office to give Thomas Jefferson, an Anti-Federalist, his rightful place in office. These patterns of peaceful transition have carried on since. In 2017, Barack Obama left his office for Trump. 

These transitions of power were also in place to ensure one person didn’t hold too much power. Term limits were added after Theodore Roosevelt died in the middle of his third term. The strict changes ensure that things can change and that the power still rests with the people. 

So, Trump’s proposal is dangerously authoritarian. His inability to attribute slipping poll numbers to his own behavior may be his Achilles heel. It also raises concerns for what might happen if he does lose the election in November. The chances of a peaceful transition are slim, considering Trump’s foundation is set in hatred. In 2016, Trump admitted he would not accept the election results if they came out in Clinton’s favor. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, agreed that the 2020 transition would be far from peaceful. 

Other Trump tweets have explored the ideas of dictatorship. In February, the president tweeted out a video with a never-ending chain of Trump signs. Trump 2020, Trump 2024, Trump 2028 and so on. So, changing election day could be the start to a continuation of something much worse. Trump’s friendly history with dictators such as Putin and his previous praise of Communist systems only add to the danger. 

By shifting the election date, Trump would stay in power for over four years. If the November election is using mail-in ballots, then a safe, in-person vote would likely take months. This means that if the resolution were approved, the election would drag Trump’s term onwards. No president has ever tried to extend his term in this way.

If Trump loses in 2020, he is allowed to contest the results, meaning he could drag the typical democratic process through the dirt before admitting defeat. Democratic leaders say they hope their party will win by disproportionate margins so Trump becomes discouraged. This is because election results are contested on the state-wide level, meaning Trump would need to file and go through several court processes in order to contest each individual result. The work would be too tedious if the Democrats swept by an overwhelming majority. 

Trump’s bold election day statement is a far fetched dream, but the underlying implications of his statement show the dangers behind the idea. By placing the blame on mail-in ballots, Trump puts the United States on a dangerous path forward, one that has many authoritarian motives. Most importantly, it undermines an American system that has worked for centuries: one which ensures fairness and democracy. 

Featured Image via @realDonaldTrump on Twitter

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Joanna Hou
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Joanna Hou is a 17 year old high school student based in San Diego, California. She is passionate about current events, law, and politics. She is an avid writer, journalist, and musician (euphonium and flute). In her spare time, she enjoys reading and boba.

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