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.