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Coons on ensuring a peaceful transition of power: 'There is no answer to that question'

Courtesy of the office of Sen. Chris Coons

Delaware’s junior Senator Chris Coons spoke in Wilmington briefly Thursday — and addressed the President’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November’s election.

Coons called President Donald Trump's comments “utterly unhelpful” and “unprecedented.” But he said there is no mechanism for Senate Democrats to ensure a peaceful transition of power—a foundation of American democracy. 

“There is no answer to that question,” Coons said. “Like everything else in our democracy, the Supreme Court for example, has no army. They can’t make people follow them, they rely on their legitimacy. When the Supreme Court orders the President to do something, it's because of tradition and respect for the significance and legitimacy of the institution.”

Coons said the only solution is for Senate Republicans to tell the President his words are “inappropriate” and “uncalled for.”

“A few have so far,” said Coons Thursday. “But frankly, more need to.”

Republican Senators including Mitt Romney of Utah, John Thune of South Dakota and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said there will be a peaceful transition. 

Coons is encouraging Americans who vote by mail to do so as early as possible— and to “stay calm” if results aren’t clear for days after the election.

“Free, fair, regular, peaceful elections are an absolute central part of our democracy,” said Coons. 

Tens of thousands of Delawareans, if not more, are expected to vote by mail this November because of the coronavirus. More than 76,000 did so during this month’s state primary election. 

Two mail sorting machines removed from Delaware’s only processing and distribution center this summer are being restored, according to a Postal Service spokesperson and American Postal Workers Union local president Trina Wynn. 

Wynn said in August that six of the roughly twenty barcode sorting machines at the New Castle processing center had been removed. She and other union members called for them to be restored. Wynn said delivering election mail on time would be a “challenge” under the changes imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

Senator Chris Coons has loudly criticized these changes, and said Thursday he thinks this made a difference.  

“I think it is because of that pressure by the Congressional Delegation that I’m now getting reports that in the New Castle mail handling facility, some of these disassembled machines are now being reinstalled,” he said. “But all of us should be concerned about making sure that this year’s elections are carried out appropriately and in a timely fashion.”

Coons also said in a statement Thursday Americans should be concerned about the state of equipment "at hundreds or even thousands" of USPS locations across the country. 

“Because removed machines are generally dissembled (sic) for their usable parts, with such parts being removed to maintain or enhance other machines, there is no current plan to return removed machines to service,” USPS spokesperson Raymond Daiutolo, Sr., said in an emailed statement Thursday. “Over the past month, however, a limited number of machines that were disconnected, but not dismantled and removed, have been put back into service. We have more than sufficient capacity to process current and anticipated mail volumes with the existing machine fleet.”

In Delaware, mail-in ballots must be received by election officials before the close of polls on Nov. 3 to be counted. 

The Delaware Department of Elections is urging voters to request and return mail-in ballots as quickly as possible. 

The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 3 General Election is Oct. 10.


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