President Donald Trump on Thursday evening doubled down on his suggestion to delay the upcoming presidential election on the unfounded basis that mail-in voting will lead to rampant fraud.

Trump told reporters that the November election could be the “most rigged … in history” if it’s allowed to take place. Many more Americans are expected to vote by mail this year due to the ongoing pandemic, and Trump claimed: “mail-in ballots will lead to the greatest fraud.” 

He cited news articles to show how widespread a problem this could be, including a July 16 Washington Post article about “tens of thousands of mail ballots” that were thrown out in this year’s primary elections.

But according to the Post article, while voting rights advocates are concerned about how a shift to more voting by mail will impact the November elections, it’s not fraud they’re concerned about, but ballot rejection for different reasons.  

The thousands of rejected ballots in the primaries were tossed out because of mail delays, signature match problems and other form-filling errors, the Post said, adding that the number of rejected ballots represented a fraction of those cast. 

Trump says he suggested delaying the election because he doesn’t want a situation where the result is delayed for weeks, months, or “years” due to litigation. He then repeats several false and unsubstantiated claims about problems with mail-in voting https://t.co/Nj065CIsxp pic.twitter.com/Tf5xGBOvLK

— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 30, 2020

Voter fraud in general — including fraud while voting by mail — is extremely rare in the U.S.; yet Trump has repeatedly insisted that while he supports absentee voting, mail-in ballots will lead to “rigged” results.

Election experts have pointed out that the two voting methods are essentially the same.

“We all agree that absentee voting is good — mail-in ballots will lead to the greatest fraud … you know, we talk about Russia, Russia, Russia for two and a half years and then they found nothing and there was nothing,” Trump said on Thursday. “They talk China, they talk all of these countries, they say they get involved in our elections. This is easy. You can forge ballots. This is much easier for foreign countries.” 

Trump claims that November’s election will be “fixed” and “rigged” pic.twitter.com/5dmgb9WtvH

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 30, 2020

Trump insisted that while he doesn’t want an election delay, he’s concerned that he’ll have to wait for months or even years for the results ― which he said could be moot anyway. 

“I don’t want a delay, I want to have the election. But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything. That is what is going to happen,” he said. “That’s common sense. And everyone knows it. Smart people know it, stupid people may not know it, and some people don’t want to talk about it — but they know it.”

Earlier on Thursday, Trump tweeted that the presidential election should be delayed because “universal mail-in voting” will lead to the “most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT election in history.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were swift in their condemnation of such an idea, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promising that the election would take place in November no matter what happens.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” McConnell told WNKY-TV. “We’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3.”

“We are not moving the date of the election,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) tweeted. “The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.” 

Trump has no power to change the election schedule; to do so would require a change in federal law.

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