What Happens if a Candidate Dies Before Election Day…


The possible last-minute replacement of a candidate attracted more coverage than usual this year after the media’s consistent pondering about the possible declining health of Democrat Hillary Clinton.  So, the Internet is abuzz with conspiracy theories and “what-if” questions which are as disturbing as they are interesting.  The question being posed: ‘What happens in the event of the untimely deaths of either presidential candidate before Election Day?’

According to US NEWS, if such a death does take place, the election could be delayed or scrapped altogether. Or even more troublesome: a handpicked replacement could occur by each of the parties.

Professor John Nagle, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame claims:

“There’s nothing in the Constitution which requires a popular election for the electors serving in the Electoral College. It’s up to each state legislature to decide how they want to choose the state’s electors. It may be a situation in which the fact that we have an Electoral College, rather than direct voting for presidential candidates, may prove to be helpful.”

Congress has the power to change the election date under Article II of the Constitution if such a likelihood occurs. In fact, federal lawmakers are allowed to set dates for the selection of presidential electors and when those electors will vote in the case of delayed natural election.

If something were to happen to Clinton or Trump before the election, rules established by the Republican and Democratic parties do offer guidelines for what to do.

If Clinton were to fall off the ticket, Democratic National Committee members would gather to vote on a replacement. DNC members acted as superdelegates during this year’s primary and overwhelmingly backed Clinton over boat-rocking socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

DNC member Connie Johnson, a former Oklahoma state senator who supported Sanders, says it would be most appropriate for the DNC to give the nomination to the runner-up if Clinton were to die or drop out before the election.

The Republican National Committee’s rules potentially allow for greater democratic input, but don’t require it. If a vacancy emerges on the ticket, the 168-member RNC would decide whether to select a replacement on its own or “reconvene the national convention,” which featured 2,472 voting delegates, that met over the summer.

If RNC members make the choice themselves, the three members representing each state, territory and the nation’s capital – a committeeman, committeewoman and the local party chairman – would jointly have “the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.”

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