Can Obama postpone the election? Rush Limbaugh thinks he just might try, using Hurricane Sandy as an excuse. Limbaugh quoted articles appearing in Slate, Politico and The Atlantic urging the president to postpone the election. Here’s what Alex Guillen wrote in Politico:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing for Hurricane Sandy to disrupt next week’s elections, agency Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday afternoon.
“We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election,” Fugate said on a conference call with reporters.
Really? How’s FEMA preparing for Hurricane Sandy to disrupt the elections?
What’s FEMA got to do with it? FEMA doesn’t have anything to do with this. ‘We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election,’ said Craig Fugate, the FEMA administrator.
He can ‘anticipate’ all he wants, but FEMA’s got nothing to say about this. Congress sets the date of election. The states have to get their re-elects in by the middle of December. They’ve got 34 days to have their electors vote. States don’t set the Election Day; the Congress does.
According to Politico:
Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state “has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”
As far as postponing the election, it’s far from clear who can decide, and under what authority:
“Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “There’s very little precedent for such an act.”
In case of emergencies that threaten to disrupt voting, the federal Election Assistance Commission advises state election officials to “review existing State law to determine if the Governor has the power to cancel an election or designate alternative methods for distribution of ballots.”