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.
I think what Kevin Drum said is correct, both with respect to if you’re so paranoid as to give the rumor credence then you’re not going to listen to any evidence to the contrary, and to the surprising lack of discussion regarding the advisability (or even possibility, given the restrictions on elections places in the national Constutition and many of the state constitutions) of having a backup plan for holding elections in case of a massive terrorist attack.
While I’m not a big fan of the George W. Bush administration, I do not think that even in his deepest dreams does President Bush ever contemplate deliberately circumventing the Constitution, much less trying to install himself as “dictator for life”.
Geez, some people need to get hobbies…
Imagining Ashcroft under their beds is their hobby.
What Jack and McGehee wrote (^^).
With the momentum toward anarchy building with every passing week (they hate George Bush, we KNOW that already), I anticipate that regardless of fact in November, the Left in the U.S. will not be satisfied with any evidence, result, count or otherwise.
In other words, what benefits the potential for a terrorist attack most in the U.S., is the ongoing push toward anarchy by America’s Left-Wing.
Oddly what the paranoids fear, a delay in an election because of a terrorist attack, would most benefit the Dems anyway.
Assume a horrific attack on Nov 2. It would occur where? Obviously large cities, places where Dems have the majority. Terrorism doesn’t work very well in the country, small towns or suburbs, people are too spread out to make attractive targets.
So, under the assumption of the horrendous attack, city people don’t go to the polls because they either can’t, due to destruction or won’t, due to fear. Country people go to the polls and vote the way they normally do, landslide Republicans. Landslide not just at the top of the ticket, either. What would be , under normal conditions, blue states elect Republicans to all statewide offices. Given the all but overwhelming advantages of incumbancy theis changes the balance of political power for a generation.
Seems that the Dems would be the ones pushing for an orderly method to reschedule, they’re the ones who have the most to lose.
The problem is that there is not and has never been a direct vote for President. The Constitution still gives the state legislatures the right to choose the electors any way they want, and since most, if not all, states use the winner-take-all system, they are basically stealing minority votes and giving them to the majority candidate, which is how a popular-vote-loser like Bush can win the “election”. Given the popularity of misconceptions like the idea that Nader stole votes from Gore, most people are still laboring under the misconception that the people actually elect the President, which is far from the truth.