EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – President Trump stirred controversy and a potential constitutional crisis on Twitter again, this time suggesting to delay Election Day citing potential voter fraud.
But the delay cannot happen.
Richard Pineda, a communication professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, said the tweet is another example of smoke and mirrors designed to detract from the news that might not flatter the president.
“It’s unfortunate timing, but Herman Cain died today and I don’t know that that’s going to get talked a lot about,” Pineda tells KTSM.
“But I mean clearly he died as a result of contracting coronavirus and the suspicion is he got it when he went to the Tulsa rally, which does not bode well for the president.”
Cain and other staunch supporters of the president have called the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax.
Pineda says crying wolf about potential voter fraud is an attempt to distract Republicans.
“It’s a good distraction, which I think the president is also pretty good at and by sowing chaos and getting people to be riled up. These things tend to have a week shelf-life, give or take – it’ll draw more attention away from the lack of work or effort put on the coronavirus,” he said.
Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have rejected the suggestion.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says the November elections will carry on as planned.
Pineda tells KTSM that delaying the elections is a virtual impossibility – and a power the federal government does not possess.
Besides, the presidential race isn’t the only race on the ballot. Many important state and local races are also slated to take place in November.
“There are already going to be lots of different races on the ballots. States have to set it up and certify their own election results, so that’s the other thing,” Pineda says. “I think it sounds good; it sounds very bombastic that the federal government can prevent elections from happening – but it can’t.”
Pineda worries the president’s suggestion is detracting from other attempts to disenfranchise voters, like purging voter rolls.
A person cannot vote if their name is not on a voter registration roll, or voter registration lists that identify voters.
State and local government officials regularly purge voter rolls to ensure the lists are up-to-date, such as by removing the names of the deceased.
Trouble arises when eligible and registered voters show up to the polls and are not on the voter roll, which could potentially threaten election fidelity more than the improbability of delaying the elections.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, voter purging rates are elevated in districts with a history of voter discrimination.
“I think purging voter rolls is far more insidious, and the Democrats for some reason cannot find a good legal counter – or even a strategy – to stop voter disenfranchisement,” Pineda said.