Presidential elections are currently held on the first
Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This year, that is November 3,
The US Constitution demands via the 20th Amendment that
the President’s term must end on January 20 of the year following the general
election, reported Jurist. The 20th Amendment also requires a new Congress to
be installed by January 3. Article II, Section 1 provides guidance for the
electoral process. Initially, each state much appoint a number of electors to
the Electoral College. Then, Congress may determine “the Day on which they
shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United
Additionally, Congress has enacted a law to further control the date of
elections. It clarifies: “The electors of President and Vice President of each
State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second
Wednesday in December . . . .” This year, that day is December 14, 2020. If the
President of the US Senate and the Archivist do not receive electoral votes by the fourth Wednesday
in December, or December 23, 2020, then the President of the Senate may request
the votes by “the most expeditious method available.” Without a resolution by
January 6, then the House selects the next president and the Senate
selects the next vice president.
States do have the power to delay election day, but federal
elections are beholden to federal election law. Without the consent of
Congress, States could only postpone election day to the extent they could
still meet the December 14 deadline. From this, only Congress and the States
may delay election day. The President may not unilaterally postpone
election day without the consent of Congress.
Finally, the Constitutionally mandated end-of-term, January
20, cannot be changed without a constitutional amendment.
Trump’s suggestion of postponing elections was met with
bipartisan reproach Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on a delayed election, speaking to Kentucky TV
station WNKY. He said:
Never in the history of this country, through wars,
depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled
election on time. We will find a way to do that again this November 3rd. We
will cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on November 3rd
as already scheduled.
Trump’s allegations widespread voter fraud are unfounded. Oregon, which has held postal elections since
2000, has had only 14 reported cases of postal fraud.
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