Delaying the election? For those who don’t know – the Constitution trumps any delay when it comes to a change of power in January

Delaying the election? For those who don’t know – the Constitution trumps any delay when it comes to a change of power in January Delaying the election?  For those who don’t know – the Constitution trumps any delay when it comes to a change of power in January

July 31, 20202 min read
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Delaying the election?  For those who don’t know – the Constitution trumps any delay when it comes to a change of power in January

 

It was taking twitter by storm. President Donald Trump was raging against the idea of mail-in ballots and even alluded in one tweet that perhaps the November 03, 2020 election sate needs to be delayed.

 



Now delays are possible, and history has shown that results don’t always come clearly on election night. However, the experts from Michigan State University want to remind everyone that it’s the Constitution that ultimately decides when there’s a change of power in Washington.

 

 “There are a couple of important legal points to remember about this,” says Brian Kalt, professor of law at Michigan State University.  “First, the day for federal elections and for the meeting of the Electoral College is set by law so only Congress has the authority to reset it, not the President or anyone else.”

 

And if there is no election this November, or if there are significant delays, Kalt also wants people to know, it does not mean an extension of Trump’s presidency.

 

“Second, regardless of when the election is held, the 20th Amendment specifies that the President’s term (as well as the Vice President’s) ends at noon on January 20. If there is no election to replace the President, the line of succession statute kicks in.

 

With no President-Elect or Vice President-Elect to qualify, the Speaker of the House would become Acting President until an election could be held. Of course, if there is no presidential election there would presumably be no congressional elections either. In that case, there would be no House: the 20th Amendment ends congressional terms on January 3.

 

With no House—and thus no Speaker—the next in line would be the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Since only about a third of senators see their terms expire in each cycle, the Senate is a continuing body. The remaining senators would have a quorum and would select a new President Pro Tempore.”

 

This leaves the fate of the presidency and the keys to the White House in the hands of just a few powerful people in Washington. And the outcome of how they would choose is anyone’s guess.

 



And if you are a reporter covering politics and this potential situation, then let our experts help with your questions and ensure your coverage is accurate.

 

Brian Kalt is a Professor of Law and a Harold Norris Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University. He is an expert in constitutional law of the presidency, and he’s available to speak with media regarding how the Constitution and laws play a role in elections. Simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.



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  • Brian Kalt
    Brian Kalt Professor of Law & Harold Norris Faculty Scholar

    Expert in constitutional law of the presidency, presidential pardons, impeachment, succession and the 25th Amendment.

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