Statement on Confidence in the November Election

July 31, 2020

Statement from co-founders and additional members of Checks & Balances:

This week, President Trump suggested that the election on November 3rd might be postponed.  To be clear, he has no power to do so. The date of the election is set by federal law, which only Congress can change, and other election dates and rules are set by the Constitution, which the President cannot alter.  Americans have voted for president through war and pestilence since the founding of the Republic. Even the suggestion the election could or should be postponed defies American democracy, history and tradition.

Moreover, we reject the notion that the president’s words do not matter and should be dismissed as jokes or even ignorance. The president took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and faithfully execute our laws – not usurp them.

Accordingly, we call on the governor or secretary of state in each state and territory where federal voting will occur to commit publicly to holding the federal election on November 3rd, or through absentee and/or mail-in-ballots cast by November 3rd, as those states authorize. This commitment to not delay the election will provide confidence to voters across the country that their government will follow the law.

The president is using his bully pulpit not for leadership during a national crisis but instead for sowing distrust in our system of government and outcome of the fall election. It is therefore incumbent on every public figure in a position to do so, without regard to party or policy preference, to take action to protect the security and administration of, and foster confidence in, the election.

Many Americans will vote in advance of November 3rd, and others will vote in person on that date. But, given the global coronavirus pandemic and efforts that states and localities will be taking to administer the election in a way that is safest for citizens, it is likely that election returns will not be available by late that night or even the morning of November 4th. Should that happen, it is not cause for alarm; it does not mean that the election was rigged, or fraudulent, or otherwise illegitimate. Instead, Americans should prepare themselves for this potential delay, and steady themselves to await the final tally in this election of national consequence.

Jonathan H. Adler
Donald B. Ayer
C. Frederick Beckner III
John B. Bellinger III
Robert M. Chesney
George T. Conway III
Carrie F. Cordero
Miranda P. Fleischer
Charles Fried
Stuart M. Gerson
Peter D. Keisler
Orin S. Kerr
Edward J. Larson
Marisa C. Maleck
Irina D. Manta
John M. Mitnick
Trevor Potter
Alan Charles Raul
Jonathan C. Rose
Paul Rosenzweig
Andrew Sagor
Robert B. Shanks
Erin L. Sheley
J. Michael Shepherd
Ilya Somin
J.W. Verret

Each of us speaks and acts solely in our individual capacities, and our views should not be attributed to any organization with which we may be affiliated.

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