Can Obama postpone the 2012 election?

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The POS’s Chicago pal and his first chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel famously said: “Don’t let a crisis go to waste.”

The buzz on the Internet and talk radio this morning is that Obama wants to use Hurricane Sandy as an excuse to postpone the 2012 election and has asked his lawyers to look into how.

Super-storm Sandy left at least 18 people dead across seven states and knocked out power to at least 7.4 million people along the U.S. East coast.

In New York city, the financial district remains closed for a second day as seawater cascades into the construction pit at the World Trade Center. Roads and subway stations are flooded, with no relief in sight. More than 12,000 flights have been canceled since Monday and New York’s three major airports remain closed. Smoke lingered over many streets after a huge fire devastated 50 homes in the New York borough of Queens, many roads remained blocked by trees, and tunnels were inundated by lingering floodwaters. Train and bus services remained suspended citywide. Some subway stations had water above platform. Power was cut to about 500,000 homes across New York City’s five boroughs, including 250,000 in Manhattan. Company vice president John Miksad told reporters it could take a week to completely restore power. Tens of thousands of people had ignored appeals by the New York mayor to leave districts at risk where police had toured the streets calling for inhabitants to take special buses to safety. Authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order for 375,000 people at risk, but the majority decided to brave it out. (Source: Discovery News)

See pics of the damages wrought by Sandy here.

But the consensus I’ve read on the net is that, short of his imposing martial law, Obama does not have the constitutional legal authority to postpone a scheduled election.

David Jackson reports for USA Today, Oct. 30, 2012:

Don’t expect Hurricane Sandy to blow away Election Day a week from now.

Although storm damage will likely affect voting, especially early and absentee voting in the Northeast, it is highly unlikely that Election Day itself will be postponed.

For one thing, federal and state officials have a week to clean up and prepare.

There are also legal issues involved. Federal law requires elections to take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Any deviation from that plan is likely to lead to lawsuits.

Any mention of delaying the election is also likely to draw intense political protest, especially from President Obama’s critics.

The United States has held elections in difficult situations before — including in the middle of the Civil War in 1864, when Abraham Lincoln won re-election over one of his own former generals, George McClellan.

[…] There are provisions in the states to conceivably delay elections because of weather, but that would likely involve only New York or New Jersey. Neither is considered a swing state.

[…] There is at least one precedent for a delayed election — New York City delayed its primary on Sept. 11, 2001, which was set to occur on the very day of the terrorist attack. Later, when then-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani suggested extending his term in light of the 9/11 disaster, he was quickly rebuffed.

The Congressional Research Service, asked in 2004 whether a terrorist attack could force postponement of a presidential election, said in a report that Congress would have to get involved in any delay, assuming it is even legal:

“While the Constitution does expressly devolve upon the States the primary authority to administer within their respective jurisdictions elections for federal office, there remains within the Constitution a residual and superseding authority in the Congress over most aspects of congressional elections … and an express authority in Congress over at least the timing of the selections of presidential electors in the States … Under this authority Congress has legislated a uniform date for presidential electors to be chosen in the States, and a uniform date for congressional elections across the country, which are to be on the Tuesday immediately following the first Monday in November in the particular, applicable even-numbered election years. In addition to the absence of an express constitutional direction, there is also no federal law which currently provides express authority to “postpone” an election, although the potential operation of federal statutes regarding vacancies and the consequences of a State’s failure to select on the prescribed election day … might allow the States to hold subsequent elections in ‘exigent’ circumstances.”

There you have it.

Obama (or anyone) does not have the legal authority to postpone a scheduled election. Maybe Congress has the legal authority, but even here it’s questionable.

Meanwhile, as the POS puffs himself up pretending to take charge of storm relief efforts, Governor Mitt Romney actually is doing something concrete.

Two days ago, Team Romney already offered its campaign bus to carry relief supplies for the East coast. (H/t FOTM’s Miss Wendy!)

Romney has also asked Americans to open their wallets and donate to Red Cross and other relief agencies, in lieu of donations to his campaign.

Consistent with his conservative principles and beliefs, Romney also said he’d handle the disaster differently from Obama. Instead of the federal government being principally in charge of relief efforts, Romney believes individuals (The People) and state governments should undertake disaster relief. A Romney campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Henneberg, said in an email to Bloomberg Businessweek: “Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions.  As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”

In a CNN debate during the Republican primary, Romney said disaster relief responsibilities should be shifted to the states. He also advocated privatizing disaster relief. “If you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better,” Romney added.


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0 responses to “Can Obama postpone the 2012 election?

  1. I’m sure Obama and company are trying to figure out a way to postpone elections. But Rush said the same thing, not quite likely he can do so. We’ll see…

    • From what I understand, it is up to the states to determine if/how they can extend voting times and put up locations in non-damaged places. People can call to get absentee ballots (which may get extensions?). Not each state has the same laws re: regulation of voting (such as extending, changing date, etc.). It could be messy. I just hope each governor and state’s election offices are on top of this and deal with it to enable their citizens to get out to vote.

      • The state don’t determine the Presidential Election. That is a Federal Guideline. I am confident each voter will get to voice their opinion.

        With absentee ballots and early voting.

        For those in Sandy’s path my prayers are with you, stay safe.

  2. killer of muslims

    since when did that sob from kenya ever let the law or the constitution every get in his way?

  3. and meanwhile many people continually blamed bush for hurricane katrina well now the shoe is on the other foot lets see if people blame hurricane sandy on obama doubtfull considering obama has managed to lay the blame at every where but on his own doorstep..

  4. Was concerned, but now I doubt it. This was no Katrina.

  5. This just in; Democrats and All Liberals are here by, “mandatory instructed” to be sure to vote November 7th., 2012…..
    I approved This Message….. DLKSR.

  6. I wouldn’t put anything past the SOB POS CIC.



  7. *RED ALERT: FEMA Making Preparations to Postpone Presidential Elections in Wake of Sandy

    October 30, 2012 By The Doc 48 Comments

    FEMA has just reported that they are preparing for Hurricane Sandy to disrupt next Tuesday’s Presidential elections.

    Will Obama declare Martial Law along the US east coast due to the massive devastation and become the defacto der fuhrer by suspending elections?

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing for Hurricane Sandy to disrupt next week’s elections, agency Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday afternoon.

    From Politico:

    “We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election,” Fugate said on a conference call with reporters.

    But any potential tinkering with Election Day would bring a bevy of legal issues.

    “Our chief counsel’s been working on making sure that we have the proper guidance,” he added. “We’re going through the regulatory policy and making sure all that’s in place and we can support it.”

    It appears that only local elections would be impacted- but such a situation could result in a nightmare as most of America would vote on Tuesday and then wait indefinitely for the Northeast to hold their elections:

    Based on what little legal precedent there is — most of which is because of concerns over terrorism — plus the role of the states in administering elections, the president and Congress aren’t very likely to step in, according to Winkler.

    A prominent example is New York’s Sept. 11, 2001, mayoral primary was postponed due to the terrorist attacks on that city.

    Winkler also pointed to the 2004 election, during which concerns about terrorist attacks disrupting the election swirled.

    The House of Representatives that year overwhelming passed a resolution declaring that “the actions of terrorists will never cause the date of any Presidential election to be postponed; and … no single individual or agency should be given the authority to postpone the date of a Presidential election.”

    With Obama now behind in nearly all polls, does anyone think he would not jump at the opportunity to use his power to postpone the elections?

    However, the report theorizes that presidential emergency power could be used to delay an election — specifically, if “attacks, disruptions and destruction are so severe and so dangerous in certain localities, particularly in crowded urban areas, that the President under a rule of necessity may look to protect the public safety by federalizing State national guard and restricting movement and activities in such areas which would obviously affect the ability to conduct an election at those sites.”

    If any changes are made, expect whichever campaign that loses the election to make a historic stink and file nearly every imaginable lawsuit:

    Of course, expect any change to Election Day to bring a host of lawsuits.

    Without much precedent to go on, though, Winkler predicts courts will back up any changes made in Sandy’s wake.

    “Just as the parties tend to come together to solve these kinds of crises, the courts usually recognize the legitimacy of these pragmatic workarounds,” Winkler said.

    While it is far too early to predict how this will play out, we are reminded of the words of the Obama Administration’s Rahm Emanuel: ‘never let a good crisis go to waste.‘

    Check out these similar articles:

  8. I’ll be glad when the day gets here and I won’t have to open the newspaper, computer or tv and see obamas face or hear his name again!

  9. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this enlightening and informative post, as well as your meticulous research substantiating your conclusion. Indeed, a lot of good work can be accomplished in a week. I agree completely with Governor Romney’s approach to provide the states with the authority to administer the relief required in their own jurisdictions. Once again, the king is devoid of efficiency and common sense; he is making sure that he appears as a “hero” in this situation.

    Please pray to Our Lord to help the victims of this tragedy. May He work through us to render them compassion, care and practical solutions considering their dire state of affairs.


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