Some suburban Republicans downplay president's tweet about delaying election

President Donald Trump's musings on Twitter about delaying the Nov. 3 election drew sharp reactions from suburban Democrats while some prominent state Republicans downplayed the impact.

"We are confident that this election will happen on Nov. 3," said former Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, who plans to vote by mail herself in her hotly contested matchup with Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten for the 6th District.

Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis, meanwhile, who is running for Congress in the 14th District, said a delay "is not something to joke about."

Trump, who has raised unproven claims that voting by mail will lead to election fraud, tweeted Thursday that "2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA." "Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" the president concluded.

Critics said Trump's idea coincides with negative polls and that the president lacks the power to change the election.

Mail-in ballots are gaining attention amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a safer alternative to mingling with others at polling stations this fall.

"For the president of the United States to suggest that he will try to delay an election is not only deeply disturbing, it is unconstitutional," U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an attorney, said on Twitter.

"Only Congress can change the date of the general election," the Schaumburg Democrat added.

Casten, of Downers Grove, said "vote-by-mail is proven to be a safe and secure method of casting ballots."

Oberweis, who will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville in the 14th District, said "a delay should not - and will not - occur, and it's not something to joke about.

"No election in American history has ever been delayed. While COVID-19 has created some challenges for administering a normal election, everyone must come together to ensure a free, fair, and regularly scheduled election," said Oberweis, of Sugar Grove.

Underwood said: "We learned today that from April to June, we lost a full one-third of our economic activity due to the spread of COVID-19. Tomorrow, unemployment benefits for families who lost work due to the pandemic are set to expire. I will not be distracted from fighting for the support our families, health care providers, essential workers and small businesses urgently need."

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider advised calm.

"I believe the president was expressing his frustration over potential voter fraud," said Schneider, of Bartlett. "I'm sure the election will occur as scheduled."

Illinois' two U.S. senators also entered the fray.

"The president doesn't have the power to delay an election and he knows it," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted, suggesting Trump "focus on building an effective response to a pandemic that has killed 150,000 Americans and devastated the economy."

Durbin's Republican opponent, former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, however, said that "we believe that the reason President Donald Trump floated that delay idea is because he, along with millions of other voters, are very concerned with voter fraud."

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates referenced the Constitution on Twitter: "The Congress may determine the time of (choosing) the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield said on Twitter that "Congress set the national election date by law in 1845, and only Congress can change the date. We've held elections during the Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and even the Spanish flu pandemic."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago said on Twitter that "mail-in voting and absentee voting are the same thing, and are perfectly safe.

"In fact, we should provide strong funding to help support mail-voting so Americans don't have to choose between casting their vote and protecting their health," Quigley wrote.

And Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville suggested Trump was "trying to distract from his failures, like over 150,000 COVID-19 deaths and a reeling economy."

According to The Associated Press, the president appointed a commission after his 2016 election to investigate whether voter fraud was widespread, but the panel disbanded without any findings. Trump himself voted by mail in the Florida primary election in March, AP said.

• Daily Herald staff writer Marie Wilson contributed to this report.

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