President Donald Trump has suggested November’s presidential election be postponed, saying increased postal voting could lead to fraud and inaccurate results.
He floated a delay until people could “properly, securely and safely” vote.
There is little evidence to support Mr Trump’s claims but he has long railed against mail-in voting which he has said would be susceptible to fraud.
US states want to make postal voting easier due to public health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the US constitution, Mr Trump does not have the authority to postpone the election himself. Any delay would have to be approved by Congress. The president does not have direct power over the two houses of Congress.
In a series of tweets, Mr Trump said “universal mail-in voting” would make November’s vote the “most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history” and a “great embarrassment to the USA”.
Mr Trump appears to be doing everything in his power to undermine the credibility of November’s vote, in which a record number of Americans are predicted to rely on mail-in voting to avoid the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. He’s repeatedly made false and misleading claims about the reliability of the mail balloting and suggested broad conspiracy theories. Critics warn that he could be laying the groundwork for contesting the results – although the purpose may be simply to give him a scapegoat if he loses.
His tweet could also be an attempt to divert attention away from the truly dismal second-quarter economic numbers just released. He’s been relying on a financial turnaround to breathe life into his re-election campaign, and instead the outlook appears exceedingly gloomy.