Joe Biden. | Matt Rourke/AP Photo
Former Vice President Joe Biden argued Monday that November’s presidential election should not be delayed, even if the coronavirus pandemic forces changes to the way voting is conducted.
“I’d much prefer to have on — you know, in-person voting, but it depends. It depends on the state of play,” Biden told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Tuesday. “But we cannot, we cannot delay or postpone a constitutionally required November election.”
The remarks from the likely Democratic presidential nominee represent his most firm insistence yet that the general election be administered as scheduled. The comments also come amid escalating uncertainty regarding the longevity of the ongoing public health crisis.
The disease’s rapid spread in the U.S. has already upended voting in more than a dozen states where local elections officials have delayed their primaries, prolonging Biden’s quest to seal his party’s nomination.
But voters in Wisconsin are still heading to the polls Tuesday after the state’s Supreme Court blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute executive order postponing in-person voting. The decision is certain to endanger residents seeking to exercise their constitutional right in the face of a highly infectious and deadly outbreak.
Meanwhile, congressional Democrats have pushed for greater federal funding to facilitate vote-by-mail capabilities, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicting last week that the country would “probably be moving to vote by mail” for the remainder of the 2020 election season.
The $2 trillion coronavirus relief package which Congress passed and the president signed last month provides the U.S. Postal Service with a $10 billion loan from the Treasury Department but does not wipe out its $11 billion debt or dole out the $25 billion appropriation Democrats had sought to help keep the federal carrier from going bankrupt.
The stimulus measure also includes $400 million in election security grants to help states “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
Despite Biden’s assertion that the general election should proceed in November, his call last week for the Democratic presidential nominating convention to be delayed resulted in the national party organization postponing the high-profile, quadrennial event from from July 13 to Aug. 17.
On Monday, Biden spoke by phone with Trump about the administration’s response to the outbreak after the two rivals sparred on Twitter earlier in the day.