President Donald Trump on Monday erroneously claimed that he had the authority to issue an executive order to restrict the growing number of states that are moving towards universal mail-in voting for the 2020 election due to the ongoing pandemic. Legal experts were quick to point-out that any such order would undoubtedly be unconstitutional, as presidential elections are run by individual states.
During Monday’s coronavirus press briefing, One America News reporter Chanel Rion — who recently theorized on the possibility that the coronavirus was created in a North Carolina lab — asked the president whether he was considering an executive order “addressing mail-in ballots.”
After stating that his administration planned to sue Nevada for passing a law allowing universal access to mail-in voting ballots — a system that’s already in place in five U.S. states — Trump said he was planning on issuing an executive order.
“Well, I have the right to do it. We haven’t gotten there yet, but we’ll see what happens” Trump said in reference to the order.
“The President has no power—none—to change individual *state* rules regarding mail-in voting by Executive Order,” wrote University of Texas law professor and constitutional scholar Steve Vladeck. “As usual, this is just bluster—designed not to lead to any actual action, but only to further create a cloud around an election potentially decided by mail-in ballots.”
Democratic lawyer Marc E. Elias similarly contradicted the president’s claim about having the right to issue an executive order on mail-in voting.
“Donald Trump does not have the power to affect how states run their elections. He is a pathetic man trying to cling to power in a country that wants him gone,” he wrote.
Cardozo Law School professor Deborah Pearlstein responded to Trump with a simple, “Uh, don’t think so.”
Trump also continued draw a false distinction between mail-in ballots and absentee ballots, claiming the former will lead to rampant fraud while the latter “is great.” However, election experts have repeatedly debunked the notion that there is any substantive distinction between the two methods of voting, as all ballots that are sent through the mail undergo the same rigorous verification process before being counted.
As part of his diatribe against mail-in ballots (which again, are the same as absentee ballots), Trump also cited to the delayed reporting of election results in New York as evidence of voter fraud. This was also not true, as CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale pointed out.
Trump also awkwardly referenced an election fraud prosecution in West Virginia — “they indicted a postman for doing something bad, you know that” — which Trump suggested (without reference to specific additional cases) was a widespread problem. The West Virginia case involves ballots that were altered from Democrat to Republican.
[image via NBC/YouTube screengrab]
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