Election 2020: What Happens If Trump Dies?

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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23 Responses

  1. Michael Cain says:

    Electors are picked by the state legislature.

    This is too simple a statement. It’s at least “electors are chosen by a process specified by the state legislature.” See, for example, the Texas statute you quoted: electors are nominated by the parties and selected by the voters. Or Colorado’s equivalent: each candidate must include a slate of electors in their paperwork, because candidates in Colorado are not required to be affiliated with a party*. Since Arizona v. Arizona it’s probably “electors are chosen by a process specified by whatever method or methods the state uses for legislating.” In that case the SCOTUS held that the voters, by means of a ballot initiative, count as the Constitutional “legislature.”

    I’m not aware of any states where the (possibly lame duck) legislature meets and chooses electors.

    * Anyone who meets the Constitutional requirements and is willing to pay a $5,000 filing fee can get on the presidential ballot here. Yes, we have vanity candidates.

    ** The decision surprised the hell out of the East Coast pundits. They forgot that Kennedy was a California boy who understood that all of the western states had laws (or state constitutional requirements) affecting federal elections that had been put in place by initiative. To disallow that would have created chaos that would have taken years to sort out.Report

    • The important thing is that the legislature can meet and change the rules.

      So maybe we should say they are chosen at the pleasure of the legislature.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Will Truman says:

        In general, sure. There may be a handful of states where the rules about electors are embedded in the state constitution. In some, it may require overriding a veto by the governor. For this year’s election specifically, depends very much on the state. Here, the legislature adjourned sine die and can’t come back into session before January unless the governor calls them.

        Changing the rules on this, particularly in a way that looks like overruling the voters, strikes me as something that a legislature could only get away with once. Many of them would lose their seats before they got a chance to do it again, and their replacements would most likely refer a constitutional amendment to the voters. Much like the Queen and Parliament in the UK. She can overrule Parliament, but if she ever does so Parliament will promptly strip her of the power to do it again.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    Biden seems to be cruising to victory so it could be pointless speculation. I’m going to crack open a beer I think when it happens.Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    Trump dies and the Republicans proclaim Ivanka Goddess-Empress.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    The serious answer is that people vote for Trump even though he is dead. If he wins, the Republican National Committee selects who becomes President. That seems to be the law in nearly every state. So apparently, this scenario is contemplated in the law even though it never happened.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

      How many states recognize the existence of a national party? My state doesn’t — the state party has to name the candidate that appears on the ballot originally, and the state party would have to name the replacement. The chances that state parties defy the RNC are slim to none, but there are at least some where it’s possible.

      Side note, the SCOTUS upheld our state law that says an elector not voting for the party’s candidate is a resignation, and the governor names an alternate who will vote properly. No faithless electors here :^)Report

  5. What happens if Trump survives, but is not capable of performing the duties of the presidency?Report

  6. supedestroyer says:

    The scarier question is what happens is President Trump is re-elected and the U.S. has four more years of chaos. Will President Trump become more lazy since he is not running for office or will be become more insane and narcassistic and to stupider executive orders.

    Also, will the left become unhinged and riot for the next four years.Report

  7. Aaron David says:

    Trump turnaround: Biden lead cut to 49%-47% as coronavirus, debate don’t hurt president


  8. DavidTC says:

    This entire article sorta leaves out the _other_, much more complicated side:

    What happens if Trump dies after after the electoral college votes (And casts enough votes for him to win, obviously.) on Dec 16, but before that vote is counted Jan 6?

    Before that point, the electoral college will just vote for someone else, after that point, Trump will becomes president elect so Pence will end up being sworn in.

    But between those two points, it can get very weird. Specifically, you can get points where a Republican elector (Just a single one), knowing the president could die, preemptively defected and voted for Pence as president, which then puts him on the list of ‘top three presidential candidates’ that the House can then vote for if the threshold of 270 votes is not met.

    This then turns the VP election process into nonsense. The Senate can only pick the two winners there, and if the VP has already been picked to be president, he’s probably ineligible to be vice president.

    If Trump becomes very ill around December 15 or so, enough for the party to figure this out, but doesn’t die until later, it is entirely possible to end up with Pence as president and _Kamala Harris_ as vice president. Or Biden as president and Pence as vice president. All sorts of dumb things can happen.Report