Kevin Drum notes that rumors of a grand conspiracy by Bush to call off the 2004 election and install himself as dictator for life got a boost by this Newsweek story about the Justice Department looking into the legal steps required to postpone the election in case of serious attack.
A few weeks ago in Premature Frothing I noted that DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (created as a direct result of the Florida recount mess), couldn’t even get his phone calls answered in this town. As such, he was unlikely to generate the kind of heat necessary to inspire legislative action. I’m not sure that he’s got any more influence now that he did then, but at least he got someone to read his memo.
In response to that post David Scott Anderson posed the following question, “How would conservatives react to a canceled or postponed election, or the declaration of Martial law?” You can read the comments to see the answers. The general consensus is that by and large none of us see it as possible/likely/practical (take your pick). Martial law obviously would trump an election, but we would probably have much bigger worries (i.e. millions dead, etc.) than a delayed election in that case.
Ultimately the Electoral College waits for no man – its dates are set in stone. Remember all the fuss in 2000, and the hurried legal maneuvers? The Electoral College clock was ticking, which is why everything seemed to move at hyper-speed. Once upon a time there was no direct vote for President – state legislatures picked the President, in effect, by filling the slate of electors. I’m not an election law scholar, but I imagine that most states still have a provision in their laws to appoint their slate of EC electors by vote of the legislature (or by appointment of the Governor) in the absence of a publicly held election. There was talking in the Florida legislature at one point about electing an EC slate by the legislative branch to ensure that Florida was not disenfranchised in the EC. That went nowhere fast – especially when legislators realized that disenfranchised voters would probably take out their anger on them…
The Moderate Voice has a roundup of the reactions to the story around the blogosphere.