Faced with a rapidly shrinking economy and poor forecasts in the polls, President Trump floated the idea of postponing November’s presidential election, citing “fraudulent” mail-in voting as a rationale.
Trump’s tweet has been seen by many as indication that he and some in his base might reject the outcome of the election should his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., win in November. Why exactly would Trump want to postpone the 2020 US presidential election and can it actually happen?
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
The tweet has elicited immediate backlash from Democrats but, to date, received little response from Republican lawmakers and politicians.
This isn’t the first time Trump has taken aim at mail-in voting. Throughout the primary season, Trump repeatedly claimed that conducting elections via mail-in ballots guarantees fraudulent outcomes and tip the scales in favour of Democrats. “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” the president tweeted back in May, referring to the California primaries. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…”
It’s important to highlight that Trump’s assertions regarding mail-in ballots as a fraud-inducing voting method are downright inaccurate, and bi-partisan experts from across the US have repeatedly attested to the contrary. “Multiple studies have found that there is no widespread fraud in US elections, and that includes voting by mail,” the CNN reported.
Responding to Trump’s claim that mailing in ballots will benefit Democratic candidates, David J. Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, stressed that both Democrats and Republicans have won elections through mail-in voting. “Honestly, amongst election administrators it’s not [a political fight]. They know mail voting is secure, they know mail in voting will be preferred by a lot of people in this environment, and it helps them provide for in-person voting for the people who need it,” he added.
To be clear, unlike what many Republicans have stated previously, Democrats are not pushing for a federally-mandated system of mail-in voting across the nation in November, but are rather advocating for increased federal financial assistance to states so they could institute their own mail-in voting mechanisms.
Many view Trump’s proposal to postpone the election as an attempt to shift attention away from his poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has to date cost the lives of more than 150,000 people in the US, and a swelling economic crisis.
Trump’s tweet was posted minutes after the Commerce Department announced that the US GDP has shrunk by 9.5 per cent over the three months ending 30 June, and that the US economy shrank at a 32.9 per cent rate during these months—the worst drop on record. Once a promising re-election pillar, the economy has become a matter so dire that Trump is desperate to deflect public attention from it.
Trump’s poor performance in recent polls and his unclear prospects in key battleground states may have also propelled him to call for a postponement of the election and cast doubt about the validity of the results.
No. The US President has no authority to cancel or reschedule election dates. According to Article II of the US Constitution, only Congress is endowed with the power to do so.
Trump’s tweet does, however, place American democracy at grave risk by inspiring distrust about the electoral process among his voter base, and preparing the ground for his refusal to accept the election results and leave office should he lose in November.
Yesterday, Twitter saw Anonymous, a group of hacktivists known for its cyber-attacks against governments, institutions and corporations post a new video after a few years of absence. In it, an activist wearing the group’s recognisable Guy Fawkes mask promises to expose Minneapolis Police Department’s “many crimes to the world,” following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin. The footage ends with the message: “We are legion. Expect us.”
Furthermore, unrelated to the protests currently happening all over the US, Anonymous has also tweeted that it has uploaded documents with evidence against Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein and other high-profile figures. So who exactly is Anonymous and what else has the group of hacktivists revealed yesterday?
The group named Anonymous began on 4chan in 2003. It is a decentralised group of hackers with no leadership and famous for never revealing its members’ identity. When posting videos online, Anonymous members usually wear a Guy Fawkes mask, the same mask worn by protesters in the novel and film V for Vendetta. Members also disguise their voices by using voice changers or text-to-speech programmes.
Originally focused on entertainment, Anonymous gradually became associated with activism on many international issues. 17 years after its conception, Anonymous is mostly known for its highly publicised cyber-attacks against specific institutions. This reputation began in 2008, when the group targeted the Church of Scientology in a series of cyber-attacks which incited in-person protests against the church.
Two years after that, in 2010, Anonymous went after Airplex software, a company that worked with film studios to shut down copyright infringement websites. Anonymous shut down Airplex’s website for a day, saying: “Anonymous is tired of corporate interests controlling the internet and silencing the people’s rights to spread information, but more importantly, the right to SHARE with one another.”
In 2012, Anonymous brought PayPal’s website down in retaliation for shutting off service to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, which cost the company millions.
In 2011 and 2012, Anonymous took actions to support the Arab Spring movement by helping Tunisians protect web browsers from government surveillance and helping dissidents in Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan and Zimbabwe. The collective also hacked Israeli websites after the 2012 Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.
In 2014, Anonymous hackers attacked Ferguson City Hall’s website after the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer, which started riots throughout the city. At that time, Anonymous went on to threaten local police with cyber-attacks if protesters were abused or harassed.
Back to 2020, new protests have erupted in the US for the same reason as the demonstrations that took place in 2014: protesting against police brutality and systemic racism. While the group of hacktivists has clearly stated it will go after the Minneapolis Police Department’s, it also released some other shocking documents.
If you haven’t followed the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, here’s a little recap for you. After working as a teacher, Epstein moved into high finance when he persuaded the father of one of his pupils to give him a job at Bear Stearns. He quickly rose through the company and set out on his own as a financial consultant after just five years with the bank.
In 2008, Epstein was charged with soliciting prostitution from underage girls, and served a short jail sentence thanks to a plea deal widely seen as too clement. While awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking, Epstein took his own life in his jail cell in New York in 2019.
Prince Andrew met Epstein in 1999. Last year, after a picture emerged of Prince Andrew with one of Epstein’s accusers, he became part of the Epstein scandal. The picture was said to have been taken at Epstein’s London address. Further claims were made against Prince Andrew, who has since said he only saw Epstein once or twice a year and stayed “in a number of his residences”, but cut ties with him in 2011 after a photo of the pair walking together attracted criticism.
The duke denied ever witnessing or suspecting any concerning behaviour from Epstein. That being said, the Duke of York has now been relieved of his public duties due to his involvement in the scandal and his friendship with the late Epstein.
Although it was already known before Anonymous posted its recent video that Trump was friends with Epstein, the US President has recently always been quick to dismiss any kind of friendship. And yet, Donald Trump was pictured with Epstein at many events through the years and had once called him “terrific.”
Both moved in the same circles for years, but Trump insisted he only knew Epstein because of his own club in Palm Beach, where Trump was photographed with Epstein in 2001.
On the 31 May, Anonymous tweeted that it has uploaded documents which contain incriminating evidence against Donald Trump in the cases of Epstein’s alleged sexual assault. The collective also claimed it has evidence that the British royal family had Princess Diana murdered. Many of these tweets have since disappeared, but screenshots are still circulating online.
After launching a threat against the US government following the death of George Floyd, the group of cyber activists explained that if the government was not willing to bring justice in the case, Anonymous would then begin to expose some of the crimes that the US has been hiding.
A few hours after the Anonymous video hit the internet, the collective exposed the connection of many celebrities to the Epstein child trafficking scandal. As mentioned before, Trump was listed in what Anonymous called ‘The Little Black Book of Jeffrey Epstein’—a list of all the people who attended parties organised by Jeffrey Epstein, where it is said that he “recruited the children.”
These names included Ivanka and Ivana Trump, Chris Evans (the English TV host, not to be confused with the American Marvel actor), Mick Jagger, Will Smith, and more. Among those names was the English supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Not only did Anonymous threaten the US government and the Minneapolis Police Department, it then took down the Minneapolis police website and hacked Chicago’s police radio to play ‘Fuck the Police’ on loop in order to stop officers from communicating with each other.
More secrets are expected to be revealed as long as the US police keep arresting protesters instead of “the real criminals.”