NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 13, 2004

Yesterday, the airwaves and Internet conspiracy Web sites were quavering with rumors -- denied by administration officials, including National Security Adviser Condolezza Rice -- that the Bush administration is considering a proposal to postpone the November federal elections if a terrorist attack disrupts the process.

In any event, postponing the constitutionally scheduled election is a bad idea, says the Washington Times.

Some have likened the proposal to the asserted need for emergency provisions for replacing members of Congress if many of them are killed by terrorist attack -- thus denying the House a quorum to vote on needed emergency legislation. The comparison is invalid, says the Times:

  • In the latter instance, claims the Times, the constitutional process could not continue, thus forcing the government to legislate in an unconstitutional manner; and justifies making constitutional emergency provision.
  • But an election disrupted by terrorist attacks creates no constitutional crisis, even if thousands or millions of American voters were killed or deterred from voting.

There would still be a presidential candidate who would win the majority of the remaining votes cast in each of the states and the District.

The Electoral College would function in December. Either John Kerry or George Bush would, as set out in the Constitution, be elected president and the republic would stand. The same cannot be said for postponing the election -- even if done by constitutional amendment.

Source: Editorial, "Don't postpone the elections," Washington Times, July 13, 2004.


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