'No, Mr. President': FEC Commissioner Condemns Trump's Call to Delay Election, Says He Doesn't 'Have the Power'

Federal Election Commission (FEC) Commissioner Ellen Weintraub condemned Donald Trump on Thursday for his suggestion that the election be delayed, saying on Twitter the president doesn't "have the power" to push back the November 3 date.

"No, Mr. President. No. You don't have the power to move the election," Weintraub wrote. "Nor should it be moved. States and localities are asking you and Congress for funds so they can properly run the safe and secure elections all Americans want. Why don't you work on that?"

On Thursday, Trump suggested the presidential election should be delayed because of the increase in mail-in voting, which has expanded during the coronavirus pandemic.

"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" Trump tweeted on Thursday.

Trump has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud, a claim disputed by many election security experts.

The suggestion to push back the election comes as nationwide polling shows presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden significantly ahead of the president with 95 days until the vote.

Because the date for the federal election is set by Congress, a move to delay it would have to go through the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.

The date of the presidential election has never been changed in response to an emergency, even during the Civil War, World War II and after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Ellen Weintraub
FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub at a congressional hearing on July 19, 2017. Weintraub has condemned President Donald Trump for calling for the November election to be delayed, saying he doesn't "have the power" to do so. Joe Raedle/Getty

Throughout the pandemic, Democratic officials have cautioned that Trump will use the global health crisis to undermine the election and possibly delegitimize its results.

In April, Biden predicted Trump would find a way to try to postpone the election. "Mark my words, I think he is going to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held," Biden said at a virtual fundraiser.

In response, Trump told reporters at a White House briefing that he has "never even thought of changing the date of the election."

Senator Bernie Sanders also took to Twitter on Thursday to send Trump the same message as Weintraub's.

"No, Mr. President. We're not delaying the election," he wrote. "The American people are sick and tired of your authoritarianism, your lies, your racism. On November 3, 2020 democracy will prevail and your disastrous presidency will end. Bye-bye."

The FEC is led by six commissioners, of whom no more than three can belong to the same political party. The regulatory agency is in charge of enforcing campaign finance law.

FEC press officer Judith Ingram told Newsweek the agency does not have the authority to change the date of the election.

"The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, Senate, presidency and the vice presidency, not the administration of elections," Ingram said in an email.