WASHINGTON — In his latest assault on voting by mail, President Trump said on Monday that he thought the Democratic primary in New York’s 12th Congressional District should be rerun because of lengthy delays in counting mail-in ballots.
Prompted by a question at an afternoon news conference, Mr. Trump also claimed that he had the right to take executive action to stop the broader use of mail-in ballots nationwide, but he said “we haven’t gotten there yet.” He offered no details on what authority he would cite to override state laws that allowed mail-in voting.
The president has been raging against voting by mail for several months, claiming without evidence that the process is plagued by fraud and insisting that the broader use of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic will corrupt the 2020 presidential election. “Universal mail-in ballots is going to be a great embarrassment to our country,” he said.
Hours earlier, Mr. Trump had written on Twitter, “See you in Court!” — referring to Nevada’s governor, who is expected to sign a bill passed by the state’s Legislature over the weekend that would allow universal mail-in balloting.
On Monday evening, the president focused his attention on the New York Democratic primary, in which large numbers of voters mailed their ballots to avoid standing in lines at crowded polling places for the June 23 primary, where Representative Carolyn B. Maloney was facing Suraj Patel. Nearly six weeks later, all of the ballots have yet to be counted, a fact that Mr. Trump said proved that his critique about mail-in balloting was correct.
“If you look at the New York congressional race, which is a disaster,” Mr. Trump said, adding: “They’re six weeks into it now. They have no clue what’s going on. And I mean, I think I can say right here, and now I think you have to rerun that race, because it’s a mess. Nobody knows what’s happening with the ballots and the lost ballots and the fraudulent ballots, I guess.”
There is no evidence that the New York primary results were tainted by criminal malfeasance, according to a wide array of election officials and campaign representatives. Still, candidates and political analysts are warning that government officials at all levels need to take urgent action to avoid a nightmare in November.
“This election is a canary in the coal mine,” Mr. Patel said. Results show him trailing Ms. Maloney by about 3,700 votes in a race in which about 12,000 votes were disqualified. Mr. Patel has filed a federal lawsuit over the primary.
Other states and localities recently held vote-by-mail primaries, with some scattered reports of problems, though nothing on the scale of New York City’s weekslong process. With mail-in voting expected to surge around the country in the general election because of the pandemic, New York’s delays could soon be mirrored elsewhere.
Mr. Trump’s critics have pointed out that he is taking steps to undermine the Postal Service, potentially worsening the very problems that he cites with mail-in ballots.