President Donald Trump on Sunday sent a not-so-veiled message to conservative judges across the country by proclaiming that he is “counting on federal courts” to ensure that the winner of the November presidential election is called just hours after the polls close, despite current rules across the country allowing ballots to be counted several days after the election.
“Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later or two weeks later,” he said at a rally in North Carolina Saturday.
Democratic congressman Rep. Don Beyer, of Virginia, called out Trump’s comments on Twitter, arguing that the president wants to “use the federal courts to cheat in November by denying Americans’ lawfully cast mail-in ballots.”
“This is an open admission that Trump hopes to use the Supreme Court to steal the election,” Beyer added.
Trump’s comments came after several states extended the deadline to count mailed absentee ballots so long as they are postmarked either on or before Nov. 3.
A Michigan state judge ruled Friday that absentee ballots postmarked before Election Day can be counted up to 14 days after the election.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court similarly ruled Thursday that mailed ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. Election Day can be counted up to three days after the election.
California has one of the longest windows for ballot counting. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in June signed a law to allow ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted up to 17 days after the election. The extension was enacted after a record 72% of California voters cast a ballot by mail in the state’s March primary, according to state data.
Legislators acted out of concern that changes at the U.S. Postal Service could affect delivery times. They also expected that more people will vote by mail this year because they worry about the safety of in-person voting during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and that could overwhelm the Postal Service.
Watch Trump’s remarks and Beyer’s response below:
Last night Trump said he wants to use the federal courts to cheat in November by denying Americans’ lawfully-cast mail-in ballots.
This is an open admission that Trump hopes to use the Supreme Court to steal the election. https://t.co/7zYqHxeegQ
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) September 20, 2020