How the Coronavirus May Change the 2020 Election

Can the presidential election be canceled?

No, it can’t. The phrases of federal elected officials are set by the Constitution. Trump’s term ends on January 20, 2021. Extending it would require two-thirds of both the House and the Senate to help such an amendment and then having three-fourths of the state legislatures ratify it. That is not happening.

In a hypothetical where your entire 2020 election can’t occur, the line of succession would devolve to the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is third in line. There could be no vice president to take over because there could be no president, and there could be no speaker of the House because there would be no members of the House. That body is constitutionally mandated to be up for election each two years, just as the president’s time period is constitutionally mandated to end after four years.

The president pro tempore is traditionally essentially the most senior member within the chamber’s majority party. Meaning in this state of affairs, the presidency could probably come down to a January 2021 partisan dogfight in what stays of the Senate between Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who can be eighty, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who can be 87.

Can it be postponed?

Nearly certainly not.

The date of the presidential election has been set by statute for the reason that Presidential Election Day Act of 1845. It might require a congressional act to change that date. The Democrat-managed House and Republican-controlled Senate would have to attain a bipartisan consensus to change the date after which have the legislation signed by President Trump.

There’s a precedent from a 1982 case called Busbee v. Smith, the place a court temporarily delayed congressional elections in Georgia. It dominated then that the “state may postpone the election until the earliest practicable date” on account of “exigent circumstances.” Nonetheless, presidential elections are governed by totally different statutory language than congressional elections, and Busbee introduced a novel situation when the state had failed to draw congressional districts that complied with the Voting Rights Act.

However are there any weird loopholes?

The language really doesn’t provide for a popular vote. It states, “The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in every State, on the Tuesday subsequent after the first Monday in November, in every fourth 12 months succeeding each election of a President and Vice President.” While the Constitution provided for a well-liked vote for the House in its unique text and for the Senate within the seventeenth Modification, it still doesn’t achieve this for the election of presidential electors.

Because the Supreme Court noted in the 1892 case McPherson v. Blacker, “The Constitution doesn’t provide that the appointment of electors shall be by common vote… It acknowledges that the folks act via their representatives within the legislature, and leaves it to the legislature completely to define the strategy of effecting the object.” Thus, in principle, state legislatures could change the law to appoint electors and circumvent their state’s voters. The final state to observe this method was South Carolina earlier than the Civil War.

So, should everything in November go to vote by mail?

Not necessarily. While voting by mail presents public health advantages, there are nonetheless other significant issues with it. The only actual major voter fraud in latest political history involved a Republican operative in 2018 harvesting absentee ballots in a congressional election that had to be rerun. Additional, sending a ballot to every voter can create confusion, notably with older voters who’re used to showing as much as the polls on Election Day.

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