The Decision To Delay The Election Would Lie With Congress

Could the US federal elections be postponed? - Illustration.As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to shut down countries across the world, one of the questions that continues to be asked is - does President Trump have the power to delay the national election?

The short answer, according to various experts, is: no, the President doesn't have the power to unilaterally delay the Presidential election.

This power would lie in the hands of Congress, who would need to pass a Statute that would give the Executive Branch the power to delay the national election.

States have the power to set the time for House and Senate elections, though Congress has the power to supersede this authority.

We have seen the delay of some primaries and Governorship races so far, though the Democrats and Republicans would need to agree on a Statute in order to delay the November Presidential election.

Here are the two relevant sections of the Constitution that would apply:

Article I, Section 4, Clause 1:

"The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature therof; but the Congress may at any time make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators."

Article II, Section 1, Clause 4:

"The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States."

Note: Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 refers to the Presidential electors

The Constitution mentions nothing about giving the President the power to delay the election


This topic came up in 2004, when there were discussions as to what would happen if a terrorist attack took place in the country right around the Presidential election.

The conclusion at the time was the same as it seems to be now - Congress would need to pass a Statute giving the Executive Branch the power to delay the election.

Filed under: General Knowledge

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