No-Party Elections?
October 13, 2004 5:06 PM   Subscribe

What happens, if for some reason, say, the Democrat candidates were unable to stand for election (plane crash)? What if both pairs were out? What would happen if they were incapacitated after winning the election and before inaugaration?
posted by Gyan to Law & Government (5 answers total)
See previous question.
posted by ALongDecember at 5:19 PM on October 13, 2004

Thanks, that answers the third question. The first two are still open.
posted by Gyan at 10:01 PM on October 13, 2004

Not a simple answer, Gyan. But you should have read DevilsAdvocate's answer more carefully.

First of all, it's legal to vote for a dead man. Though I have no doubt that every effort would be made to avoid that eventuality, sometimes it just happens that way (I recall a case of a local candidate dying on election day). When that happens, state law usually takes over, requiring either new elections, a nomination by the winning party to at least fill the seat, and rules would vary on whether the incumbent would retain the office while that is sorted out.

Nationally, though, keep in mind that presidential elections use the electoral college. When you vote in November, you are not actually voting for the candidate (this will blow elpapacito's mind!); you are voting for electors who will meet in December and cast their ballots for the candidates themselves. The question of whether an elector is bound to his candidate varies by state law, and every once in awhile there's a faithless elector, such as the guy who cast his ballot for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford.

What this means in terms of your question is that the parties have until the Electoral College is in session (Dec. 13, this year) to replace a dead or incapacitated candidate. If the death happened just before the election, however, the situation becomes drastically more complicated and individual state election laws come into play.

Slate: What if Al Gore or George Bush got hit by a truck? See especially on the state law question.

Google Answers: Succession in case of death during a US presidential election Perfunctory, mostly useless answer.

Straight Dope: What if the President or Vice President elect die before being sworn in? Uses sole actual example in history (Horace Greeley -- who had already lost).

DailyKos: A random constitutional question

Of course, all of this is assuming that the US actually follows any sort of election law anymore. There's a strong feeling by certain scholars that all election law is up in the air and affected in principle, if not letter, by the Bush v. Gore decision. I can bet you that the Supreme Court we have now would feel prompted to "resolve" this issue in any way they see fit and justify it later. </shrill>

We had a process in 2000, but it wasn't used. Florida had a process, but it wasn't used. If you project what might have happened, the GOP still had an excellent chance of winning (GOP-run FL legislature would have appointed its state's electors; GOP-run US House would have counted and certified electoral ballots). I think it's actually sad that we didn't go through with this as drawn out, mechanical, sausage-making as it may have seemed. It was the law, it was intended for these situations, and for reasons of politics it was utterly bypassed. I think that made a lot of people feel the checks and balances no longer mattered -- both the electorate, and the people who should be restrained by them.
posted by dhartung at 11:51 PM on October 13, 2004

I think the real question wasn't what would happen if GWShrub were 'offed, but what would happen if Kerry/Edwards had "misfortune befall them." To which I would point out that this sort of thing has very sadly happened before. Though, that was before the primaries... I'd imagine if something were to happen to Kerry, Edwards would run with Gephardt or Dean. If K&E were incapacitated, the DNC would likely pick the next runners-up to pit against Bush/Cheney.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:46 AM on October 14, 2004

Ok, what if the GOP pair were unavailable?
posted by Gyan at 3:35 AM on October 14, 2004

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