It seems like every day brings along a new example of Jared Kushner thinking, contrary to all available evidence, that he is not only competent but that his opinions are important. The latest: he sure seems to believe he has some sort of say in whether the election happens in November.
During an event with Time magazine on Tuesday, Kushner was asked if the November presidential election might be postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic. Kushner responded by acknowledging that “it’s not my decision to make,” which is true, but then he added, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other,” indicating that he thinks it is in fact a decision he can make, as long as he doesn’t share his thoughts. But holding the election in November, he said, “right now” is “the plan.”
Time asking Kushner, who is clearly no expert on constitutional law or even the basics of democracy, his opinion on postponing the election is alarming enough; equally as alarming is Kushner’s unspoken insinuation that the date of the election is negotiable. Unfortunately for Kushner, his thoughts on this issue don’t really matter, even if he thinks they should. The Washington Post explained who can actually postpone November’s election, and guess what, it’s Congress, not Jared Kushner or his father-in-law:
President Trump’s campaign has denied he’d want to move the November election, but even if he wanted to, the president has no power over when America holds federal elections.
If not the president, then who does?
Congress. Unlike some constitutional language that can be widely interpreted, the founders were unambiguous about how Election Day would be chosen: Congress is charged with choosing the date, and that date must be the same for the entire country. Congress chose a date, the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, in 1845, and it has never been changed.
But what about in an emergency like the one we’re in?
Even in an emergency, such as a global pandemic, the president can’t circumvent Congress and postpone or cancel the general election. And it’s extremely unlikely Congress would move it.
On Tuesday night, Kushner tried to engage in some damage control. “I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of, any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election,” he said, and according to the Washington Post, the White House helpfully clarified that “he knows the election date is set by federal law.”