For the first time, Donald Trump mentioned a postponement of the presidential election of November 3, under the pretext of risks of fraud linked to Covid-19. A “Another threat to democracy”, according to Nicole Bacharan, political scientist specializing in the United States.
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Does the American Constitution allow a postponement of the presidential election?
It seems very difficult to me. As the date of the elections is fixed by federal law, it is Congress and not the President who can initiate a postponement. The law must then be voted on by the two Chambers in identical terms. But Donald Trump does not enjoy a majority in the House of Representatives. The end of the presidential mandate is set for January 20 by the Constitution, which would leave, whatever happens, too tight a window to postpone the ballot.
How can we explain that Trump is attacking postal voting so fiercely?
This is quite surprising because this type of vote is not new in the American political landscape. Donald Trump himself has already voted by mail. Voting is not easy in the United States, and the poorest, like some ethnic groups, do not always turn out to vote. Trump believes the easier the vote, the more Democrats will vote, which would be against him.
Are these suspicions of fraud founded?
Absolutely not. Donald Trump had also demanded a very thorough investigation from his administration when Hillary Clinton obtained the majority of the popular vote in 2016. At the time, he denounced a massive fraud of millions of voices from illegal migrants. However, the investigation revealed that this was a marginal phenomenon. On the other hand, we wonder every four years about the drastic way in which the electoral lists are purged by state and by city. All voters who have had a minor conviction are excluded even though they are legally entitled to vote. The same goes for those who are suspected of being in the United States illegally: no one verifies the truth of the facts.
For several weeks, Donald Trump has been facing very unfavorable polls. This declaration seems to be one more way to discredit the vote in the event of defeat …
We’re just over three months away from the vote and there isn’t a day that Trump doesn’t say the ballot will be the most rigged and illegitimate in history. This clearly means that if he loses, he will not accept his defeat.
Is Donald Trump a threat to American democracy?
American democracy was already going badly before 2016. Trump did not fabricate doubts, crises, hostility to elected officials or contesting presidential legitimacy. Barack Obama faced it for eight years. But Trump weakens democracy a little more every day, attacking institutions, the law, the power of judges, or even the value of the election. Trump’s victory on November 3 will legitimize all of his work to demolish American democracy. If he loses, he may not recognize his defeat, which would be very dangerous. And even if he accepts it, after having proclaimed injustice, a high percentage of the population would judge that Joe Biden is not legitimate.
Can he still be elected without manipulation?
Yes, the election is still quite far away and we may be dealing with reversals. No one had any doubts about Hillary Clinton’s victory and she lost. So it’s still possible that Trump will win the ballot fairly honestly.