Breaking News: In a tweet, President Trump, who is trailing in polls, floated the idea of whether to “delay the election” in November. He does not have that power. https://t.co/d3ptPeD8x7— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 30, 2020
You may have heard of the US Constitution’s emolument clause, which in Section 9 of Article I declares
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
Further, you may have noticed that Trump violates this clause daily, at least $971,000- and counting- having been transferred from taxpayers to the President’s private businesses.
So the Constitution means nothing to Donald Trump, unless he can cite, or twist, it to support actions he’d take anyway. However, the GOP might not even need the Constitution in order to delay the election. Steve M points out that the National Constitution Center has found
Three opinions from the Congressional Research Service explain scenarios about the possible delays in the presidential election process. One report, released last month, indicates a state under its own laws could postpone the general election date that results in the selection of electors; in the election this year that date is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. At least 45 states have statutes that deal with election day emergencies, the CRS says.
Steve M goes on to explain
There are several states in which Republicans fully control the government but voters might prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump -- Florida, Arizona, and possibly Georgia and Texas. There are other possible Biden states in which Republicans control the legislature -- Pennsylvia, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin. What might happen in those states?
Trump may also sign an Executive Order, such as he has on 213 occasions thus far, this one to delay the election. That might well be overturned by the federal courts, eventually reaching the US Supreme Court. Even though fast-tracked, the issue would not be settled overnight. Meanwhile, Trump might encourage his goons- such as those who came armed to several state capitols a few months ago to protest state closure regulations- to take to the streets. And as we learned from dispatch of DHS forces to Portland, Oregon, the President has at his command resources to use and abuse.
It’s not likely it would come to any of that. If Trump believes in mid and late October that he will win, he’ll have little incentive to delay the election. If the election is very competitive, he’s likely to let it go forward (with, of course, GOP voter suppression) because he’d rather win an election than not, and not go full authoritarian until he’s granted a second term. However, if he appears to be a sure loser, Donald Trump will find some way at least to try to postpone the election, especially because the longer a vote is delayed, the more likely it is that a vaccine for Covid-19 will be ready.
In this election, Donald Trump has a lot at stake- the opportunity to leverage his power into ever greater personal fortune; his ability, absent a pardon from President Biden, to remain unindicted; and the potential to shape the USA into the sort of authoritarian state favored by TayyipErdogan, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin. We know for sure only that the United States Constitution would not deter the self-designated Chosen One.