No candidate for the US presidential election had withdrawn five weeks before the polls, but Donald Trump’s hospitalization raises questions about this possibility.
The constitution provides for only two cases in which the president can be replaced by his deputy in the event of his death or inability to exercise his authority. The twenty-fifth amendment deals with the death of the president on the date set for the start of his term (January 20), so how does the twenty-fifth amendment deal with the death of the president during his term?
Other scenarios could occur if the 74-year-old Trump or his 77-year-old Democratic rival, Joe Biden, dies before the November 3 elections.
Postponing the elections?
That would be a precedent in US history, which is unlikely. Even in the midst of the Civil War of 1864, the presidential elections took place as scheduled.
Donald Trump floated the idea at the end of July, and it caused a sensation. The date of elections is determined by federal statute, and only Congress can take a step.
The agreement on a new date goes to the House of Representatives, which includes a democratic majority, and the Senate, which is controlled by a Republican majority.
And Capri Cafaro, a professor at the American University of Washington, considers that “it is unlikely that the majority of Democrats will accept the delay of the vote” at a time when Biden leads the opinion polls at the national level.
The Democratic and Republican parties can replace their candidates in the event that one of them is unable to run, but that also seems unlikely with the approaching polling date.
The Democratic candidate must be chosen by about 450 members of the party’s national committee. In the case of the Republican Party, there is a national committee of 168 members that selects a new candidate. The committee could assemble its national conference and assign 2,500 delegates to select an alternative candidate.
In both cases, the new candidate is chosen by a simple majority. But this poses a logistical problem, as tens of millions of ballot papers have already been printed.
Capri Cafaro explained that “there is not enough time to reprint the cards in my name, Mike Pence or Camilla Harris,” the vice-presidential candidates.
In addition, more than 3.1 million voters have so far voted by mail due to the emerging coronavirus, according to a study by the University of Florida. Likewise, the deadline for nominating a candidate has been exceeded in several states.
Leave the decision to the electorate?
When Americans vote for a presidential candidate, the winner will be whoever receives the majority of the votes of the 538 elite voters who make up the electorate. The names of the members of the electoral commission, most of whom are representatives of local officials in their party, do not appear on the ballot papers and the majority of them are unknown to the public opinion.
In each state, there are as many electors as it has in the House of Representatives (varies by population) and the Senate (two from each state). California has 55 senior voters, while Texas has 38, while there are only three senior voters in less populated states, such as Alaska, Delaware, and Vermont.
The vote of the major electors is subject to the laws of the states of the United States, which all – except for Nebraska and Maine – give all of the votes to the winner of the popular vote.
The constitution does not oblige major voters to do so. But the Supreme Court said in July that “dishonest” voters could be punished if they did not stick to the citizens’ choice. The Electoral College meets on December 14 to formally determine the winning candidate.
On January 6, 2021, after the official vote count, Congress formally announces the name of the new president who will swear an oath on January 20.