Protecting the Democratic Process

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Newsweek:

American counterterrorism officials, citing what they call "alarming" intelligence about a possible Qaeda strike inside the United States this fall, are reviewing a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election in the event of such an attack."

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  1. s.m. koppelman,

    I was tinfoil when tinfoil wasn’t cool. I knew if I kept it around long enough it would come back in style.

  2. So what? Everyone knows the Jews rig the elections anyway.

  3. Brian,
    If Bush or Kerry were killed or incapacitated the day before the election, it wouldn’t directly affect how you can vote in the Presidential election. In strict point of law, you aren’t voting for Bush or Kerry; you’re voting for some slate of electors, whose name probably isn’t even on the ballot, who have promised to vote for Bush or Kerry.

    If the DNC and RNC have backup candidates in place and the electors stay loyal, then the backup candidate (probably the VP candidate) would get the votes. Thus, if Bush were killed just before the election, people could still vote for “Bush” and in fact elect Cheney.

    In the case of a Senate or House election, the surviving candidate would most likely be elected. I seem to recall a case or two where a dead candidate actually was elected.

  4. Tim Foil for Prez!

  5. Wha? Holy Shit! The link to the tin foil hat site didn’t work! You know what that means…

    http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?TinFoilHat

  6. They would not need the support of Congress for that…they would send Congress home. They would need the support of the *Army*.

    i agree to an extent — but it would be enough, in all likelihood, to simply ensure that the obstructive parts of the army (which is, of course, of internally fractionated loyalties and could easily split under such duress) were otherwise “occupied” — or occupying, as they currently are, for example.

    caesar, after all, crossed the rubicon with only 5000 men when pompey in rome and could have fielded a much larger repulsive force — but for the panic that set in throughout italy on word of caesar’s action. should such a coup be attempted, especially in the aftermath of a “terrorist attack”, confusion and panic would be the dominant characteristic of the nation and the army — and i doubt that the pro-constitutional elements of the armed forces would put up sufficient resistance even to a small, well-recruited force from within their own ranks.

    tin foil indeed — but if they’re floating such ideas, perhaps the time for tin foil is now.

  7. I heard about this yesterday on a news telecast.

    Load of shit doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    The day elections are postponed because those who are entrusted to protect us (laugh) ? and are the ones who benefit the greatest from an attack?let an attack slip through, is the day that democracy dies the US.

  8. Congress sets the election date legislatively

    yes, but plainly what is being considered here is qualitatively not the process envisioned by the founders. we shouldn’t let our analysis go so far as to reduce away the potential dangers of decisions made under cover of fear and duress by the demagogues and would-be dictators who routinely hold high office in our decaying society.

  9. C’mon people, a *national* election needs to take place on *one* day. Anything else is ridiculous.

    Well, as some electoral college proponents would point out (Danger! Hull on can of worms has been breached!), there isn’t really a national election. There are 50 state contests, which historically were sometimes held on different days. And these 50 state contests don’t even pick a President, technically, they pick electors.

  10. The day elections are postponed because those who are entrusted to protect us (laugh) ? and are the ones who benefit the greatest from an attack?let an attack slip through, is the day that democracy dies the US.

    there is a lot to be said for the fact that — regardless of whatever intentions might be behind such legislation as might encode this — making a “terrorist attack” a trigger to effectively postponing the presidential election indefinitely gives a large incentive to the incumbent to “allow” or even stage such an attack.

    and let us not parse too much: any election delayed is effectively a coup d’etat, if only temporarily — and so were a roman dictator’s powers supposed to be temporary, in theory.

  11. For the people who say, “Don’t worry because they’re consulting with Congress,” will you still have this blas? attitude if Congress votes the Executive the power to postpone elections indefinitely?

  12. This wouldn’t be an issue if Electors were still chosen by State Legislatures, as was originally done in the time of the Founders. In fact, many things wouldn’t be issues if we still had some semblance of federalism left.

  13. We managed to hold elections during a civil war, 2 world wars, and 2 police actions. I think we can pull off an election even if some bastard blows up something.

    If, on the day of the election, there’s are new terrorist attacks on, say, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, I’ll have to listen to four years of partisan Democrats snivelling about the millions of voters in those heavily-Democratic cities who were “disenfranchised” by the chaos following the attacks.

    One year later, a Michael Moore movie will come out explaining that Bush refused to postpone the elections as part of a plot to seize power by preventing Democrats from voting in key cities. The Joes and Gadflys of the world will flock to the film, and lap up the propaganda like big dumb dogs.

  14. agreed sr — after all, all dying republics are characterized by a subservient rubber stamp of a parliament.

  15. One year later, a Michael Moore movie will come out explaining that Bush refused to postpone the elections as part of a plot to seize power by preventing Democrats from voting in key cities. The Joes and Gadflys of the world will flock to the film, and lap up the propaganda like big dumb dogs.

    Well, if people who vote for Democrats really are as stupid as you claim then I guess there’s really no need for elections anyway, right?

    Ad hominem is the first and last refuge of scoundrels. (As demonstrated by my own indirect use of ad hominem in this post 🙂

  16. I’ll have to listen to four years of partisan Democrats snivelling about the millions of voters in those heavily-Democratic cities who were “disenfranchised” by the chaos following the attacks.

    dan, i would never suggest that only the republicans are capable of being greedy demotic despots. i would only say that they are better positioned *right now* to take advantage of such a contrivance as this by virtue of their presidential incumbency.

  17. For the people who say, “Don’t worry because they’re consulting with Congress,” will you still have this blas? attitude if Congress votes the Executive the power to postpone elections indefinitely?

    Assume, for a minute, that Congress has the power to postpone elections indefinitely.

    So what? The Constitution sets the end of the Bush’s term on January 20, 2005. Congress doesn’t have the power to change that. If Congress, today, passed a law postponing Presidential elections until the year 4725, Bush’s term will still end on January 20, 2005.In the absence of a President and Vice President, the Presidency would fall to the Speaker of the House.

    In other words, if Presidential elections were cancelled, Bush would be guaranteed to lose the Presidency — he’d be out of office, without the people even having to vote for it.

  18. Sorry, Dan. But you miss the point. The point is to scare people, not to think. Bush is trying to establish a dictator ship – true, false, who cares? You want chimpy out of the office, don’t you? OR are you a warmonging fascist?

  19. Well, if people who vote for Democrats really are as stupid as you claim then I guess there’s really no need for elections anyway, right?

    Apparently you believe that stupid people should be denied their rights. I don’t.

  20. Is Congress even in session in November? If the attack happened on 11/1, who would have the power to postpone it? Or would they just pass off that power the same way they did with the power to declare war?

    Call me a tin-hatter, but that just screams for abuse. Not necessarily by this administration or the next, but somewhere down the line creating an arbitrary election delaying rule just asks for trouble.

  21. Dan-

    You assume that if the election is cancelled the President will abide by the Constitution and leave office on January 20.

    I have no objection, in principle anyway, to postponing the election in a single state due to local chaos. I strongly object to even postponing the election elsewhere.

    Leaving aside the metal wrappings on my head, the expenses would be considerable. I’m a poll worker, and I can tell you that a well-run election takes a lot of planning and logistics. To reschedule an election once the workers were in the field, the ballots were unsealed, the rosters were marked by people who had already voted, etc. would be a big undertaking. Not impossible, certainly. But I suspect that Election 2.0 would have all sorts of hassles. Until you’re a poll worker you don’t realize how much goes into the process. All it would take is a few mistakes here and there in each precinct for the error to add up and give an uncertain result in a close race.

  22. mak nas, your point about Rome is quite good and one that more people should heed. Already, members of Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) are far more loyal to their parties than to their own institution or the Constitution, which makes them inclined to simply approve whatever the President asks for, so long as he’s “their” President.

  23. I’ve got paranoia fatigue. Seriously, my capacity for paranoia can’t keep up with these guys.

    One thing to keep in mind – it’d be awfully hard to impose martial law because pretty much the entire army is tied up overseas. So maybe our overseas adventures aren’t entirely a bad thing.

  24. Aren’t you commiting the same fallacy as many sports fans do when they say the 4th quarter is more important than the 1st? The points (votes) count the same either way.

    The two situations are not analogous. In football, there is no hard limit on the number of points a team can score in one quarter. If you go into the fourth quarter down by 50, you can still theoretically come back to win.

    Now say the state of Tennsylfornia has 12 electoral votes. If Tennsylfornians, due to terrorism, vote a week after the national election, and candidate Smith holds a 13-elector lead, there is no situation in which they can affect the election’s outcome (except to get their favorite outsider his magical 5 percent).

    This problem could still occur if Presidents were elected by popular vote, since there would still be a theoretical maximum on the number of people eligible to vote in Tennsylfornia. (Though carpetbaggers could make that a really ugly scene.)

  25. Paranoia in moderation is a good thing.

  26. there is no situation in which they can affect the election’s outcome (except to get their favorite outsider his magical 5 percent)

    Hmm, I wonder how third-party candidates would fare in a state that voted late due to terrorism, if the state didn’t have enough electoral votes to swing the outcome.

    On second thought, never mind. In response to the attack a lot of voters would probably either vote for the more hawkish candidate, or vote against the incumbent if they blame him for the attack, or show national solidarity by voting for whoever the already-known winner might be. In any case, I doubt that many of them would vote for a third-party candidate, and any third party candidate with an ounce of common sense (a criterion that admittedly few third-party candidates can pass 🙂 would know better than to mount a campaign of “Thanks to the tragedy it’s safe to vote for me!”

  27. “So what? The Constitution sets the end of the Bush’s term on January 20, 2005. Congress doesn’t have the power to change that. If Congress, today, passed a law postponing Presidential elections until the year 4725, Bush’s term will still end on January 20, 2005.In the absence of a President and Vice President, the Presidency would fall to the Speaker of the House.”

    Would there be a Speaker of the House? How could you justify postponing the Presidential election and not the Congressional?

  28. The saying, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation”, originated because Maine held its election first (in August, I believe). The results from Maine were considered a good indicator of the final result.

    However given the current state of our country one could be forgiven for thinking it referred to the battleship.

  29. Dan – I think you got it almost right. In the “three attacks in big cities” scenario, if the elections aren’t postponed, Michael Moore will argue that that disenfranchised Democratic voters who couldn’t get to the polls. If they are postponed, it will be portrayed as a naked power grab by Bush. Easy, and a guaranteed hit movie either way!

    More seriously, I agree that disaster planning is always a good idea, and we do need to consider the possibility that it would be logistically impossible to hold elections – although, as others have pointed out, we’ve been through a lot and always held elections before. I’d be much more comfortable if postponement of the elections would mean that Bush’s term would still end on its regularly scheduled date if no election had been held, but I have a bad feeling that isn’t what it would mean. Funny…I remember some black-helicopter types predicting that Clinton would declare martial law and refuse to leave office just before the end of his second term…looks like they might have been one president off.

  30. Mr. Soaries made his proposal nearly two weeks ago. I commented back on July 1st in Greater Democracy (http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/mt/archives/000092.html):


    If we really want to protect democracy, we should encourage early voting in all states. By making early voting widely available we make it harder for terrorists to significantly interrupt voting. If we handed over authority in Iraq early to thwart terrorists, we should encourage early voting to thwart terrorists as well. I am sure there are lots of other ways that we can promote safe and widespread voting.

    So, instead of dismissing DeForest B. Soaries as the fearmonger that he may well be, we need to take his concerns and use it to work hard to ensure safe and easy voting for all citizens.

    We should take this as an opportunity to reform how voting takes place to make voting both easier and safer. There is no reason that voting can’t take place over an extended number of days.

  31. Paranoia in moderation is a good thing.

    Ain’t that right!

    That’s actually one of the things I love about our culture: The reason we’re still a fairly free country (yes, yes, I know, all exceptions duly noted) is precisely because some of us ARE paranoid, and also because we have so many canaries in the coal mine. We’ll never have to worry about a Reichstag fire as long as even a limited proposal to reschedule elections is deemed controversial.

    And our ability to read great literature is safe because Howard Stern has ensured that the front-lines of free speech will be manned by porn stars, crack-heads, Klansmen, and whatever other freaks he has on his show. Macbeth (a bloody and raunchy little play if ever there was one) is safe because the censors are too busy doing battle with Stern.

    Our most sacred freedoms are still surrounded by concentric circles of paranoia, over-reaction, outrage, and colorful canaries. Larry Flynt is there to take the bullets of the extremists so that Huckleberry Finn remains safe. The ACLU will sue over the Christmas Tree in the state capitol so that we never actually reach the stage of debating a state religion. (It may be a foolish fight, but it keeps the theocrats distracted.) Legions of lawyers will go to battle over Jose Padilla to make sure that we never reach the stage of concentration camps (well, never again, since there was that episode with the Japanese in WWII).

    Incidentally, this slippery slope logic is one reason why I do oppose the assault weapons ban.

    Not all slopes are slippery, but a lot of Americans err on the side of caution and assume that they are. I know that some people on this forum are skeptical of the frequently left-leaning characters who man these front-lines that I’m glorifying, but nobody ever said that a free society would be defended by orderly perfectly consistent and ideologically pure libertarians. A lot of the time it’s defended by pornographers who distract the censors and eccentrics who phone their Congressman over pet peeves.

    Let a thousand crackpots bloom!

  32. Oh, and let a thousand blue-skinned druids defy authorities and keep and bear their ferrets with pride! They make our country an interesting place to live in.

  33. You know, it must be something in the water here in Libertaria. Or maybe the name is Liberia, I dunno.

    The government tries to do something halfway responsibly for a change, with a bit of forethought, and they get piled on for their trouble.

    Up above, I said sarcastically that they should do nothing, let us get attacked the day before or day of the election, and give us all something to bitch about for four years. Seeing the range of opinion here ? spanning the wide arc of thought from paranoid rage to paranoid fear, to paranoid paranoia, I?m starting to think they should drop the planning and let the chips ? and body and building chunks ? fall where they may. I think we?re happier bitching.

    Steps to avert an attack, if publicized, will be later spun as part of a conspiracy to win the election for Bush. (See, e.g. The New Republic). If an attack occurs, it will be spun as a plan to boost the hawkish Bush?s poll popularity. And most here ? as I assume most at Democrapic Underground ? have assumed that steps to ensure that the election doesn?t get disrupted by a handful of attacks (which are much more likely in Blue enclaves in Blue states) are part of a nefarious scheme to steal the election.

    This is beyond mere paranoia. It?s just sad. Y?all are descending to the level, where massive conspiracies could be proved to you, based on the lack of evidence of any massive conspiracies. Because, you see, it?s consistent that any really big conspiracy would clean up any evidence of its existence?

    SO it’s abortions for some, tiny American flags for others, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom? Don?t blame me. I voted for Kodos.

  34. Stephen-

    As I said before, I see no reason to postpone the election outside of states that suffered terrorist attacks. In fact, since election 2.0 will probably be plagued by more snafus in the field by poll workers and election officials, I think we should minimize the number of places where election 2.0 occurs. The article, however, suggests that they’re contemplating rescheduling the election nation-wide in the event of a terrorist attack.

    Another reason to limit the number of states needing election 2.0: If election 2.0 is localized to one or two states then security resources can be concentrated. If election 2.0 is nationwide then they could attack anywhere and potentially postpone the election yet again.

    Finally, if a major attack on a single city is enough to postpone a nationwide election that actually makes the election an even more attractive target. I’m not suggesting that EVERY policy decision should be calculated to make us a less attractive target, but if a policy proposal (e.g. limiting the delayed election to states immediately impacted by terrorism) already has some advantages going for it (as I argued above) then the fact that it might also make terrorist attacks less tempting should be seen as icing on the cake.

  35. Why risk another Tuesday Terror? Request your absentee ballots now!

    (Also: like Fyodor, I’m not being remembered here either.)

  36. What a bunch of crap.

    We managed to hold elections during a civil war, 2 world wars, and 2 police actions. I think we can pull off an election even if some bastard blows up something.

    Now, I can understand the hand wringing (sp?) if someone blew up or attacked a polling booth. That may frighten some people. OTOH, it isn’t like America didn’t have a time in its history when thugs tried to ensure that you voted properly by standing with you as you voted or billy clubbing you before the vote.

    Bah!

  37. This kind of talk scares me.

  38. Me too.

  39. Don’t forget the NYC mayoral election right after 9/11.

    I’m pretty sure this is all hot trial balloon air but, still, just when you think you’ve gotten too paranoid, you start to wonder whether you’ve not been paranoid enough….

  40. Wow,

    Do any lawyers out there know what the constitutional impact of such an idea would be? Clearly, attempts to “postpone elections” have been used all to often to impose dictatorships, but usually in a Banana Republic, not here. If this gets to be seriously considered by the administration, I will be changing my vote for sure.

    Lets hope this ends up quashed and disowned as quickly as the hugely embarrassing “terrorist market” set up at DARPA a few months ago.

  41. It is very frightening that the government’s talking about “postponing” the election. It would take something on the order of a widespread nuclear attack to physically prevent the elections from happening, and I haven’t heard any evidence Al Qaeda is capable of that. It may be a trial balloon to see whether, after the government has made just about every other freedom subservient to “security” and largely gotten away with it, people are less than outraged by the notion of making elections optional.

  42. Quite the disregard for the country whose mantra while under attack is these colors don’t run. Maybe it should be clarified to these colors don’t run elections while under attack.

  43. …and in Ohio, the new Concealed Carry Law prevents carrying Concealed Weapons in Schools or Churches. Kind of rules out the ability to defend yourself while voting doesn’t it?

    In all the years I’ve been voting, I’ve never seen any police. I’d imagine that most polling places are soft targets.

  44. If the terrorists attack before any election, wouldn’t that defeat there purpose? I know it worked in Spain, but wouldn’t the greater majority of (undecided) Americans vote for the hawkish candidate right after an attack?

  45. Don’t get too blown out of proportion. Recall the nightmare of the Florida presidential election. And that was caused just by morons who couldn’t read/punch a ballot and judges who couldn’t read the law. It is better now to arrange the procedure in the event a terrorist attack interferes with voting, rather than wait until it happens and have the lawyers screw it up in endless litigation.

  46. If President Bush sends a message from Air Force 1 on Nov2, the day after the horrors of 11.1.04, and announces that he’s cancelling elections for the good of the country and extending his term, does anyone here think the NRA would complain?

    I think they’d put out a press release supporting his claim that God chose him.

  47. Read the article before you react…

    They are considering how to *postpone* the election. There are 10 *weeks* between the election and the end of the Presidnetial term (noon, Jan 20). There is no constitutional requirement other than the Electoral College having to meet before the end of the term. Why would postponing it a couple weeks if Manhatten is in flames do any harm at all? Now, extending the term is platently unconsitutional, but this is not what they are talking about.

    Note that the New York election on Sept. 11 was immediately suspended, and no one got their panties in a bunch.

  48. According to Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily, tinfoil is the new black.

  49. mike,

    Sure, it might be nice to have a contingency protocol. But in lieu of a constitutional amendment to establish it, I think any sort of postponement would be nothing but a recipe for endless court challenges and second-guessing that would “disrupt” the election more than any attack could.

  50. “There is no constitutional requirement other than the Electoral College having to meet before the end of the term.”

    Isn’t the date of the presidential election established in the Constitution?

  51. Hey, I just got back from vacation. How come my info isn’t being saved?? (And yes, I marked “Yes” for Remember Me)

  52. If President Bush sends a message from Air Force 1 on Nov2, the day after the horrors of 11.1.04, and announces that he’s cancelling elections for the good of the country and extending his term, does anyone here think the NRA would complain?

    I think they’d put out a press release supporting his claim that God chose him.

    Holy crap, joe, that’s a stretch…exactly what makes you bring up the NRA? I guess you can knock over two strawmen with one stone here.

  53. You have GOT to be kidding me!
    Does anyone remember the Reichstag fire?

  54. I’d like to clarify that the possibility of postponed elections gives me the serious willies.

    However, bringing up the NRA is just silly. Most NRA members are friends of more than one freedom. Implying that NRA folks are hoping for some sort of dictatorship in this country ignores the preponderance of evidence (not to mention their distrust of a President who has pretty much shown himself to be indifferent to the their cause).

  55. fyodor asked, “Isn’t the date of the presidential election established in the Constitution?”

    I didn’t know, so I looked it up. Unless I missed something (and I am FAR from a constitutional scholar)…

    Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 4:
    “The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.”

  56. Keep in mind that September 11, 2001, was the day of the New York City primaries, which did wind up being postponed.

  57. The date of the election isn’t specified in the Constitution. (The Constitution’s on the Web, fyodor, and not hard to find.) The states can set elections if Congress doesn’t say anything, but in practice the date of the election is fixed by an act of Congress.

    An act of Congress could presumably delegate authority to reschedule the election in an emergency, as long as the election happened in time to let the electors meet.

    Whether Ridge is talking about a postponement within that time frame or a longer “postponement” hasn’t been made clear by any source I’ve seen. I find it difficult to think of a scenario in which terrorists would be able to knock out the country’s ability to hold an election, yet the country would be back in a position to hold the election within a few weeks. The proposal makes no sense on its face; something that would make the election impossible would have consequences even bigger than the election itself. Thus, the proposal sounds more like an attempt to manipulate the election date, or else to set up an excuse for not holding an election, than any kind of plausible emergency planning.

    The 2001 postponement of New York’s local election is not comparable. That attack seriously disrupted normal activity in the city, and would have made it difficult for a large percentage of people to vote immediately afterward. What sort of attack could have a comparable effect on the entire country?

  58. It’s amusing to watch frightened old men try to quietly lay the framework to sustain their power, for that is all this is. A government would not be comfortable with a fast paradigm shift in any direction, especially not one that threatens to upset seat counts. If they get the impression that they’re due for a repeat of Spain, they want the chance to push the election back to let the apathy set in. It’s their way of making sure we’re properly medicated before we vote.

  59. Even if there’s a 9-11 scale attack, I don’t see the logic of postponing the election. The vast majority of folks will still be able to make it to the polls.

    A “postponement” will only fuel the paranoid obsessions of those who believe the USA is already in the control of an illegitimate junta. Lord knows those lefty nutsos are already planning on making life miserable for all of us during the R convention, and I especially dread what they’re going to do after Bush wins the election.

  60. Well, considering that any postponement of election for any reason on a national scale would immediately drive a lot of swing voters to the “D” column, they’d have to be mad as hatters to do so.

    OTOH, it is a good idea for each state to have policies in place – and given the winner-take-all nature of American presidential selection, it’s appropriate that the entire state (rather than just affected jurisdictions) should vote late if, for some reason, any jurisdiction should be affected. Otherwise, there’s a firm knowledge of just how far behind (or ahead) they are and a huge incentive for vote fraud.

  61. It is better now to arrange the procedure in the event a terrorist attack interferes with voting, rather than wait until it happens and have the lawyers screw it up in endless litigation.

    i think you have to have a foolish amount of faith in power-mad politicians to fail to see the possible end of the elective process in this. the very fact that the white house has the temerity to suggest this under ANY circumstances shows you exactly how far they feel they can go in preserving “order” and “security” — which can be construed as “their term”.

    that an election might be difficult under such circumstances is a given. the reward of “rescheduling” might — only might — be a better election. but what is the RISK? plainly, the risk is that the election may not be rescheduled — and even if it were not this time, the precedent would be set to allow any subsequent would-be dictator to manufacture such an incident as would be necessary to end the elective process once and for all. in a world where paranoia over terrorism is so rampant, is there any doubt that it is the ideal pretext?

    the constitution does not make provision for “rescheduling” elections for a VERY good reason. advocates of this kind of thing should consider what would be lost, not simply what might be gained.

  62. The proposal makes no sense on its face;

    unless you consider that it may have little or nothing to do with the reasons as stated — that instead it may be driven by a desire to hold onto power at any cost if the incumbent feels at risk of losing.

  63. I think this is a case of some bureaucrat at Homland Security thinking out of his ass, putting it into a memo and then the press reading too much into that. These officials can review all the proposals they want, but they don’t have the authority to postpone the election. The chances of this happening are slim and none.

  64. Perhaps a good comparison would be to look at various jurisdictions’ plans for holding elections during or directly after a natural disaster, e.g., earthquake, flood, or other mishap which would disrupt voters’ ability to reach the polls, or damage communications between the polls and the counting centers.

    There’s no reason why a local or regional attack should affect the scheduling of a national election.

  65. By the way, did anyone else catch the implied federalism of the election process being proposed? A national-level election committee wants the power to postpone all elections? Granted the constitution provides that a single date be chosen for the entire country, but if a delay is necessitated by a massive tragedy in one particular area, certainly the state affected should decide how to will deal with it – presumably by holding them ASAP afterwards.

    On the other hand, I doubt states rights is taken seriously enough to merit consideration these days…

  66. John,

    I agree this sounds like a bureaucratic bright idea that will never get to first base ? what worries me is that it will be considered at all. How they treat it will tell you a lot about the administration. We?ve come a long from a voluntary two-term limit, baby?

  67. Fyodor:

    As far as I can tell, Congress sets the date of the election (prior to the end of the term, which is specifically set by the Constitution). Since the article talks about Congressional authority, I see no reason to believe it is anything but but a perfectly constitutional postponement. If Bush were to simply be trying to seize illegal power, he wouldn’t be asking Congress pretty please for permission.

    Gary:

    I find it perfectly plausible that an attack on the scale of the WTC would preclude the ability of a couple *million* voters to cast their ballots, just like Florida casting doubt on the “validity” of the election, while it would take only a couple days for the New Yorkers to regroup enough to cast ballots.

    In fact, if I actually thought they were clever enough, I would suspect the administration of launching this trial balloon in an effort to get both the public and Congress to specifically say “no ‘effin way” well in advance. I think that there would be far more Kerry voters who have their spines stiffened into voting for Bush, than Bush voters scared into voting for Kerry. Combine this with the probability that a large scale attack would disproportionately effect regular Democratic voters, an election day attack could well be to Bush’s benefit. By getting Congress to reject the possibility well before, any challange to Bush’s re-election based on the “disenfranchisement” of a million terror victims would be much weaker.

  68. interesting to see how bushites justify this move. and the shredding of his military “record”. we need the same scrutiny of this fellow as was (rightly) given clinton. the man gets a pass on too much in the name of “fighting terrorists”.

    sheesh.

  69. We have over 200 years of experience running elections and by this time have developed contingency plans at the local, state and federal levels for all manner of force majeure. Bringing up election postponement at this time is just another way to ratchet up the fear factor and stick the federal nose further into the state’s tent.

  70. mak nas:

    “the constitution does not make provision for “rescheduling” elections for a VERY good reason”

    But of course it does. Congress sets the election date legislatively, so they can choose any date whatsoever *prior to the end of the Presidential term*. The article discusses the administration approaching *Congress* about the very matter.

  71. Lotta disinformation here.

    The head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, DeForest Soaries, requested that Homeland Security put in place a plan to deal with such contingencies. DHS is in consultation with Congress to try and figure out how to plan for it.

    I suppose the more satisfying alternative for all of us here, would be if DHS were to do nothing. It would be mmore satisfying because right now, we will only be able to bitch and moan until there is an attack, or until the election is held a few months from now, with or without a short delay. Whereas if DHS does nothing and the elections get all eff’ed up in a couple months’ time, we will be able to bitch endlessly for years to come about it.

  72. mak ans:

    “unless you consider that it may have little or nothing to do with the reasons as stated — that instead it may be driven by a desire to hold onto power at any cost if the incumbent feels at risk of losing”

    What you are talking about is a coupe de tat. They would not need the support of Congress for that…they would send Congress home. They would need the support of the *Army*. Now, if it got out that they were in talks with *military* leaders about postponing the election, I would be frightened. This, no. If they are trying to pull a fast one, it is in the opposite direction than most folks here think.

  73. steve,
    You are correct insaying it’s not a naked power grab, but if Congress gives the executive branch the power to delay elections in case of terrorist attacks or “national emergencies”, then it is a naked power grab. If at the end of the day, Congress has the power to delay, it’s just a dumb idea. If Congress legislates, “Ok Mr Bush, pick the situation under which there can be a delay,” then we have another erosion of the Constitution in the name of “security.”

  74. A few things:

    1) I actually do understand why, in theory, this could be an innocuous and even beneficial preparation. Say that terrorists attack the downtown area of a major city in a swing state. Say that a lot of people are unable to vote because certain polling places are closed and others are simply impossible to reach due to traffic jams from emergency vehicles. If some sort of measure for a new election isn’t in place the side that loses the state, based on returns from open precincts around the state, would file a lawsuit immediately. And that might create even more mess.

    2) And Article II, Section 1 does state that “The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.” So some sort of preparation is clearly under Congress’s authority. Interestingly, it doesn’t say that electors must be chosen on the same day, only that the electors, once chosen, must vote on the same day. I seem to recall that once upon a time some states chose electors on different days. So Congress could always make a provision for any state that was attacked to choose its electors on a different day.

    3) HOWEVER, there’s no reason to postpone elections outside the state that was attacked. If, say, terrorists blow up a building in Florida, there’s no reason why the rest of the country should have to postpone voting. Indeed, if voting was postponed in the rest of the country I’d call that grounds for writing a document that begins “When in the course of human events…”

  75. And what becomes of all the absentee ballots mailed in, presumably, before there is an attack and an election rescheduling?

    Furthermore, maybe I am sold on the Bush campaign ads that America is safer now that Saddam has been removed and thus vote for him. Now I see we just had an attack on the scale of forcing a postponement of the presidential election. Maybe then I would like to recast my vote (under the guise that Bush lied and people died :P), would I have the legal recourse to do so now that the election has been postponed and getting rescheduled?

  76. 3) HOWEVER, there’s no reason to postpone elections outside the state that was attacked. If, say, terrorists blow up a building in Florida, there’s no reason why the rest of the country should have to postpone voting. Indeed, if voting was postponed in the rest of the country I’d call that grounds for writing a document that begins “When in the course of human events…”

    To play devil’s advocate here a little bit, why wouldn’t one state’s inability to hold elections postpone the entire nation’s? Given the handwringing over the revealing of results before polls close, wouldn’t having one state vote a week later be the same effect, but magnified? I’d think that voting after the rest of the results were known would effect the results of that state pretty significantly — either it would be critical to the entire election, and therefore each side would go kamikaze on campaigning there; or it would be meaningless, effecting the outcomes of the lesser races.

    I don’t know if all that works out, but I’m not willing to call for a revolution just yet.

  77. Josh-

    Holding a postponed election in a single state may not be terribly fair, but it is presumably legal and constitutional if my memory is correct and some states used to choose electors on different days.

    Remember that some of the biggest and most expensive mistakes made by the government have been made in the name of fairness.

  78. Josh,
    Aren’t you commiting the same fallacy as many sports fans do when they say the 4th quarter is more important than the 1st? The points (votes) count the same either way. Besides, as a Californai voter, I have little sympathy for this argument because by the time I get home and ready to vote, the entire election is usually close to being called (imagine what the HI and AK voters feel like).

    BTW, I’ve never been a fan of keeping voting results on the DL before the state closes. If you don’t vote because your side lost, that’s your perrogative. There’s more on a ballot than the vote for the executive.

  79. there’s no reason to postpone elections outside the state that was attacked. If, say, terrorists blow up a building in Florida, there’s no reason why the rest of the country should have to postpone voting.

    Uh, really? I’d like to see you try to stop the networks from reporting the results from the rest of the country before NYC has voted…. C’mon people, a *national* election needs to take place on *one* day. Anything else is ridiculous.

  80. I hope someone blows up Texas. That way Kerry will win. (And texans are fascists anyway)

  81. My thoughts were on what would happen if an attack somehow killed/seriously wounded memebers of Congress, or Bush, or Kerry right before the elections.

    Would other laws cover a postponement then? Could you vote for one side of the ticket or the other without having an actual candiate named?

    On a more general note, I’d like to think that common sense and clear thinking would rule if an attack did take place and that postponement would not be needed, but I fear that in many cases hysteria might win out.

  82. Aren’t you commiting the same fallacy as many sports fans do when they say the 4th quarter is more important than the 1st? The points (votes) count the same either way.

    Well, in sports, if you’re losing in the 4th quarter, you change to a more risky strategy. In football, you throw the ball downfield, which is both more likely to score points and more likely to result in a turnover. Since there’s nothing left to lose, the latter isn’t important.

    Similarly, if one state were to vote a week later, tactics and everything else in that state would change drastically given the result in the other 49 states.

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily the right thing to do, but I don’t think it would be unpopular. I would not be shocked if 75% of the public thought it would be better to postpone every state by a week than just one. If so, would we still need to draw up a new Declaration?

  83. Mona-

    I don’t know if you’ll return to this thread now that it’s off the main page, but here’s a reply anyway.

    OK, I see your point. I guess I would observe that election 2.0 would be just as prone to disruption, especially if the terrorists used a different modus operandi. (e.g. if for election 1.0 they put a car full of explosives outside a mall, it’s a good bet that every mall will be heavily secured for election 2.0, so for election 2.0 they would be better off switching tactics.) How does one prevent the terrorists from indefinitely postponing our elections then?

    I’d be curious to know how other countries conduct elections. I know that in many other countries elections are routinely accompanied by elections but somehow they press on and keep the process going.

    So, basically, it seems to me that pressing ahead with this vital civic exercise is imperative despite terrorism.

  84. MJ wrote: “And if a President thinks he can get away with ignoring the Constitution like that, then he does not need such elaborate conspiracies such as has been suggested here to do it.”

    Who proposed “elaborate conspiracies”? This isn’t even a conspiracy (which by definition is secret), let alone an elaborate one. It’s a naked push for a compliant Congress to rubber stamp an extension of Bush’s *effective* term in office (i.e., the potential lame duck date is pushed back). What Bush might *do* with that extension (most likely immediately start a war with Syria, IMHO, to get the “rally ’round the flag” effect) gets into the realm of conspiracies.

  85. What Bush might *do* with that extension (most likely immediately start a war with Syria, IMHO, to get the “rally ’round the flag” effect)

    He could far more easily start a war with Syria in October, with no suspicious election delays necessary.

  86. Let a thousand crackpots bloom!

    Ok, for some reason, that was really funny. 🙂

  87. I’m astonished at the comments here. Thoreau, remember 9/11? Do you really think that on that day an election could have gone forward outside of D.C. and NY? It was not merely the fact that the airlines were no longer running that paralyzed the nation; I and many of my fellow citizens were petrified, leaving work, gathering children from daycare, running home, and planting ourselves in front of the TV wondering “where it would happen again and how.”

    If three major cities are subjected to some monstrous attack this coming election day, I imagine the response will be similar. Under such circumstances voting will recede as a priority for, oh, a whole bunch of folks. I mean, do you think even a lot of pollworkers might not figure their asses belong at home? Especially if they live in attractive target cities?

    Bush is not going to use such an event to remain in power past his term. Whatever his many faults, he understands the need for legitimacy and that the plots as described here would never fly in this country. As a few other (sane) folks have written, preparing for an election day attack only makes sense, and if such plans were not undertaken then Bush would catch boku shit for THAT.

    –Mona–

  88. Mona-

    I do understand your points. But the other thing you forget is that on 9/11 America didn’t just panic. America also rallied. Millions donated blood. Tens (hundreds?) of millions of people gave billions of dollars to relief funds. Rescue workers and nurses and physicians from around the country poured into NYC and DC.

    If terrorist attacks occurred on election day, Bush and Kerry could make a joint announcement that America will not be daunted and the election will continue everywhere except the places where it is a logistical impossibility, and that even those places will hold their elections promptly.

    You might say I’m delusional in thinking that this would work. But remember some other things that happened after 9/11. We were told that if we don’t go shopping the terrorists will win. We were told that if we don’t fly airplanes and take vacations the terrorists will win. Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if we don’t carry out our most important civic exercise the terrorists will win.

    Also, keep in mind that from a security standpoint, a nationwide Election 2.0 will be just as vulnerable as a nationwide Election 1.0. If the terrorists can postpone Election 1.0, they can activate a second cell with a completely different modus operandi to halt Election 2.0 (I emphasize a different modus operandi because I assume that if target X is attacked during election 1.0 then on the day of election 2.0 we’ll dispatch disproportionate security to targets similar to X, so the best bet for terrorists would be to attack targets different from X.) Far better that Election 2.0 be conducted in just a handful of states, so that security resources can be concentrated.

    Finally, you write:
    Whatever his many faults, he understands the need for legitimacy

    No comment.

  89. Thoreau, yes, many rescue workers and medical staff performed courageously on 9/11. And as they are all seeking to coordinate such efforts and get to the wounded in an atmosphere of panic and chaos, do you think this is the time to hold an election? When will these brave souls vote? And the fact is, on 9/11 for MOST people the country shut down.

    What of the more easily frightened? I might still get out and vote (assuming local polls were staffed and open), and so might you, but there is no doubt that others would not, which is to disenfranchise them. Whatever the election results, their legitimacy would be called into question because Aunt Jane and Grampa could not have been expected to vote that day, especially if they live in Chicago, Seattle or L.A. and those cities are waiting for a shoe to drop.

    That Bush and others encouraged us to shop, fly again, and return to normal in the *weeks* following 9/11 is not the same as expecting a return to normalcy in the midst of the attack itself, on the very day of it.

    Anyway, my real point is that it is prudent and valid for Bush to have some contingent plans re: the election.

    –Mona–

  90. shocked! shocked!

    elections are state-run, not federally run.

    “activist federal government when it’s my side is okay.”

  91. thoreau-

    As a practical matter I agree with you, postponing the election nationwide will likely cause more grief, confusion and expense than simply shutting down the polls in the area affected by an attack. That being said, not postponing nationwide may cause no end of legal disputes if there is a perception that a limited shutdown affected the outcome of the election, especially if Kerry loses the vote. I do not a good solution to this hypothetical problem.

    That does not explain the bizarre conspiracy theories one sees on this thread. We have some typical government bureaucracy interest occuring. The leader of a new commission seeking to expand his bailiwick. The feds wondering why if a local government agency has such authority, why shouldn’t a federal agency? As well as some good CYA reasons to at least develop some kind of contingency plan (if the excrement does hit the the rotating blades, they cannot say we had not thought of some way to deal with it).

    Furthermore, at this point, nothing seems to have been decided yet, but so many want to believe a coup is being planned. It is nuts, it is stupid. For a number reasons, some that others have brought up. Nowhere in the article does it suggest that the election would be postponed indefinitely. No matter, the President’s term ends when it ends, election or no, he does not automatically succeed to the next term if no elected successor exists. A state’s electors do not have to be chosen by popular vote, the state legislatures can devise alternative means of choosing their slates, we can have a Constitutionally elected President without a single popular cast for him or against him (technically speaking, this is always the case, no non-electoral college member has ever cast a direct vote for President). Simply postponing the election will not Bush, or any other President indefinitely in office, too many other things must happen, that simply are not condoned Constitutionally for that to happen. And if a President thinks he can get away with ignoring the Constitution like that, then he does not need such elaborate conspiracies such as has been suggested here to do it.

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