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Governor Baker addresses Trump’s tweet on the presidential election date: ‘Elections need to happen’

Governor Charlie Baker.
Governor Charlie Baker.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

After President Trump floated the idea of potentially delaying the presidential election this fall, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was asked at a Thursday press conference what he thought of the idea.

The governor, who is also a Republican, didn’t beat around the bush when it came to expressing his opinion.

“I think it’s critically important that the election that is scheduled for the fall in September and November happen,” he said, noting that municipal elections have been held in the state in recent months, even when the coronavirus positive test rate was “north of 10 percent.”

Baker said he supported the legislation passed in Massachusetts that made mail-in voting possible.

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“Look. We’ve had elections in the midst of world wars. We’ve had elections in the midst of the Civil War. We’ve had elections many times in this country during terrible, awful circumstances,” Baker said. “But elections need to happen, and there’s no reason why this one can’t happen when it’s supposed to happen in September and November.”

Baker’s comments come after Trump, who in recent polls has been lagging far behind his presidential rival as he faces a devastating public health crisis and economic collapse, on Thursday railed against mail-in voting and suggested in a tweet that the election should be delayed until people can “properly” vote.

It’s an unprecedented proposal from an American president and one which he appears to have no authority to implement. There is also no evidence that mail-in voting is vulnerable to fraud. Even prior to the pandemic, five states, including heavily Republican Utah, implemented universal mail in voting.

Baker wasn’t the only Republican who rejected Trump’s suggestion. Top Republicans in Congress also quickly rebuffed the idea: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the election date is set in stone, while House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said the election “should go forward” as planned. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said the election will take place as planned, “be legitimate and...people should have confidence in it.”

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Read Baker’s full comments on the issue below, as transcribed from Thursday’s press conference:

“We held municipal elections in the commonwealth over the course of the past few months, and in some cases, at a point in time when our positive test rate was north of 10 percent. We held legislative elections — hotly-contested legislative elections — over that same period of time. In Swampscott, which is a small town, a lot of people did this with absentee ballots. Election Day, they completely changed the way they handled polling, reduced the number of polling places, went to much bigger spaces, spread everybody out. It worked fine. I think it’s critically important that the election that is scheduled for the fall in September and November happen. And I think the legislation that we signed and that the Legislature worked on earlier to make mail-in voting possible, especially for seniors and others who may have a particular predisposition toward illness, to be able to vote from home without having to go to a polling place, was the right thing to do. But I think. . . Look. We’ve had elections in the midst of world wars. We’ve had elections in the midst of the Civil War. We’ve had elections many times in this country during terrible, awful circumstances. But elections need to happen, and there’s no reason why this one can’t happen when it’s supposed to happen in September and November.”

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Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.