While Joe Biden continues his victory tour, the coronavirus is wreaking havoc worldwide and could ultimately have an impact not only on the campaigns between President Donald Trump and Biden but, in the worst case, also have a severe impact on election night proceedings.
What is Happening in American Politics?
Only this past Monday America witnessed what effects the current crisis can have on elections. A day before the Ohio primary, the state’s governor Mike DeWine canceled the vote due to the crisis. Primary staffers, as well as voters, would have been exposed to “unacceptable risk” to their health, he said. Besides Ohio, upcoming primaries have also been postponed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland.
Trump praised DeWine’s decision. The Republican governor “knows what he is doing” and had done a ”good job,” Trump said. Previously, Trump had said that canceling or postponing an election was “not a good thing” and also “not necessary.”
Trump’s Latest Unfounded Statement: Coronavirus Will Only Last Until August at the Latest
When asked how he could ensure the November presidential election, Trump stated on Tuesday that the virus would be rid of by then. Getting rid of it was “the best thing” one could do. In any case, the crisis would only last until August at the latest, according to the president. A Trump classic.
However the reality is far different. There are currently over 100 deaths and over 6,000 confirmed cases in the United States – while increased testing is only just about to begin now.
If Coronavirus is Still Hitting Hard by Election Time What Happens?
This raises the question: what happens if the crisis lasted significantly longer than currently anticipated? Can the election take place, or could Trump even postpone or cancel it?
In theory, it is entirely possible to postpone an election. However, the President alone is not authorized to make this decision. Congress would have to vote in favor of it, meaning the effort needed to be bipartisan. However, the likelihood of Democrats sabotaging themselves by providing Trump a pass seems not only inconceivable but utterly grotesque at this point.
How Hard is it To Postpone an American Election?
The hurdle to postpone an election remains exceptionally high. Federal law regulates the date: the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It has been the case since 1845. Historically, a president was also elected in times of war, for example, during the Civil War or in the final phase of the Second World War in November,1944. Despite all their wisdom, the founding fathers did not implement a virus clause in the Constitution, either.
However, even if Congress could agree in a bipartisan effort, a postponement would only be possible for a few weeks. The new term of a President begins on January 20, 2021, according to the Constitution. Moreover, it is not only the president who is elected on November 3, but also parts of Congress and several governors. These logistics and constitutional guidelines cannot merely be overlooked nor easily worked around.
It adds insult to injury for the Trump administration, for which — depending on these next months — a postponed or canceled election could be a blessing in disguise. With the stock market tumbling, even Trump now believes a recession is possible, while Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin states that an unemployment rate of 20 percent is not inconceivable. Trump’s most potent weapon — a booming economy — is currently being disarmed, and it hurts his re-election prospects significantly.
Nevertheless, the virus will at least very likely affect the course of the election in the meantime. It currently does not look as if both parties will be able to officially elect their candidates at the July and August Conventions. Besides, postal voting is only possible in two-thirds of the states.
Currently, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have had to accept the reality of the virus in terms of their campaigns. Campaign events are canceled and home visits by staffers are unthinkable. It will be an election year like no other, but an election year nonetheless.