After sparking a fierce backlash for suggesting that the November election should be postponed, President Donald Trump decided to try another scheme in an apparent effort to stay in power longer than what the constitution allows by claiming that, “with litigation,” it could take “years” to determine the winner of the upcoming presidential election.
Trump’s comment came at a Thursday afternoon White House briefing just hours after he took to Twitter to suggest the Nov. 3 contest be delayed, marking the latest in a series of election-related statements that experts dismissed as a legal or practical impossibility.
“For so many years, I’ve been watching elections and they say the projected winner or the winner of the election,” Trump told White House reporters. “I don’t want to see that take place in a week after November 3, or a month or, frankly, with litigation and everything else that can happen, years.”
However, election law experts interviewed by The Hill told the publication that “none of Trump’s claims Thursday about the election timeline stand up to scrutiny.”
Edward Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, said that “any state should be able to count votes-by-mail and verify it within a month unless something derails the system.”
Justin Levitt, a law professor at Loyola Law School, said “it’s likely Americans will not know the winner of the presidential race on election night. But procedures codified in federal law and the Constitution prevent any lingering uncertainty about the election results from grinding the government to a halt.”
As noted by The Hill, “under current law, members of the electoral college are scheduled to meet and vote on Dec. 14. After that, Congress will convene on Jan. 6 to count the votes. The Constitution also clearly states that the sitting president’s term ends Jan. 20.”
“We should get ready for the fact that we may not know who won on Election Night,” Levitt said. “But there’s a process for counting, and a process for fighting over the count, and the Constitution says that all of that is over, full stop, well before noon on January 20.”