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JLeslie's avatar

Does the vote for President In America have to be on one day?

Asked by JLeslie (54570points) October 30th, 2012

The US constitution says the below:

“Clause 4: Election day
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing [sic] the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Congress sets a national Election Day. Currently, Electors are chosen on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November, in the year before the President’s term is to expire. The Electors cast their votes on the Monday following the second Wednesday in December of that year. Thereafter, the votes are opened and counted by the Vice President, as President of the Senate, in a joint session of Congress.”

It seems to me since we allow early voting that the election day for the popular vote does not have to be on one day, but rather the reporting of the vote by each state needs to be done by that day. Or, even more important the day in which the electoral vote must be submitted.

How do you interpret what is written concerning the matter in the constitution?

What prompted me to look it up is people discussing delaying the vote in the states that have been affected by the storm. I remember during the Bush Gore vote a reason to consider extending a vote, or revote was natural disaster under state law. Something like that. I can’t remember exactly. The movie Recount shows the Republican women in charge of the vote happy she doesn’t have to make an exception since there was not a natural disaster.

Do you think there should be a delay in voting in the affected states?

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9 Answers

ETpro's avatar

The current interpretation is that it is permissible to allow early voting, but all voting must terminate on the Congressionaly set election day. Voted begin their final tally then.

zenvelo's avatar

I heard a discussion on a CBS radio station; the problem is what happens in the non voting states if the results are out in the voting states. Is that fair? What if the senate or house swing one side unexpectedly; does a ton of money pour into the yet to be voted races?

Plus, Congress would have to pass a law within the next 5 days. And you can’t leave it to the states because they won’t act in unison.

fredTOG's avatar

Early voting cheats a candidate and the process. A candidate is cheated by a system that cuts off their ability to campaign right up to and including Election Day. The process is hurt because although it is a government function to administer an election it is the people’s job to keep it honest.

With early voting it is impossible for a candidate or a party to insure the integrity of the election process over a long period of time. Most campaigns rely on volunteers to help them execute a get out the vote effort. Maintaining a volunteer effort for a long period of time is unfair and almost entirely impossible to conduct.

It certainly makes sense for there to be absentee ballots. However, absentee ballots should only be used for excuse not convenience. If someone is ill, serving in the military, on business travel, or there exists an emergency they certainly should be provided with an absentee ballot.

The Constitution is clear. Congress is given the responsibility to set a single day for a national election — not days. States have no right to subvert the clear directive and intent of the U.S. Constitution when it comes to national voting.

States have absolutely no say in setting the day for a national election nor should they have a say in how a national election should be conducted. If the founding fathers wanted such power reserved to the states they would have done so.

In addition, if we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we have a national voting standard for casting ballots in national elections?

Read more on Early Voting Violates Constitution
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glacial's avatar

Whether or not there should be a delay in voting, I don’t believe Obama would risk the backlash that would inevitably ensue. He will probably prefer to take his chances. To be honest, I don’t expect the storm will affect the outcome, since most of the northern coastal states are blue anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

@glacial. I was not necessarily talking about the current situation, but rather a general discussion also of how people interpret what the constitution says, and how much autonomy states have.

Personaly I think Romney should call for the delay if there will be considerable difficulty voting on Tuesday. Most of the states affected are blue. If any of them go red there will be an uproar similar to the Bush Gore fiasco. My aunt is disabled, needs a wheelchair to get around pushed by an aide, and planned on voting on election day. Her power is out, affected by the big transformer that blew in lower Manhattan. If her voting location is moved because of power outage she won’t be able to vote. However, I do think by Tuesday the majority of electricity will be restored, and that most areas will be passable.

@zenvelo I think they would have to hold voting results from other states for it to be fair.

@fredTOG The candidates are aware of when early voting starts in each state, and it is the same for both/all candidates, so I think it is fair. I rather vote in person early when I need to, than send in an absentee ballot. I prer early voting notbe more than one week in advance though. Very early voting implies to me the voter has decided no matter what new information has come out about a candidate.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie I was addressing your question “Do you think there should be a delay in voting in the affected states?”, which is about the current situation.

I think there are equal arguments on both sides, and that either interpretation would probably stand up in court given a friendly judge (by which I mean: I don’t think it matters whether it is strictly constitutional, and the outcome would likely be decided by the current politics). None of this helps your aunt – are there campaign volunteers who could pick her up and take her where she needs to be? She could arrange this ahead of time in case it is needed.

JLeslie's avatar

@glacial She won’t go far. It isn’t a matter of having transportation. She is in NYC, there is transportation.

wundayatta's avatar

The Constitution was written in the days when we only had horse and buggy for transport. I think the long lag times were there in order to make sure a new president was elected by the time the old term runs out.

Nowadays, we have the internet and instant communications. There is no reason why we can’t update the voting schedule to take advantage of these technologies. We could eliminate most of the lame duck session. We could have elections a week before the new term, if we wanted to. Or two weeks. Or whatever.

If it would take a constitutional amendment to change this, then I think it would be something we should do. Except for the lead time necessary for transition, I don’t know why we need such a long time between election and election and inauguration.

Now, I think you have to have a final date beyond which there are no new votes. It doesn’t matter if there is a storm. You have to have a cutoff. Suppose we extended the date and there was another storm, and we extended again, and there was another storm? How long would you keep on extending? I think there should be a set time during which people vote. For me, two weeks seems like plenty. That way, everyone would have a chance, even if there were many storms.

I am, of course, not worried about fraud. Except at the voting machine level. Not at the retail level. And fraud that is going to be big enough to make a difference requires massive collusion. And it is pretty easy to catch using statistics. Any fraud subtle enough to evade statistical detection is probably not big enough to make a difference.

zenvelo's avatar

@fredTOG Each state gets to conduct it’s voting in it’s own manner (except states under Federal Voting Rights Act oversight because of past discrimination). But as long as it is non -discriminatory, it is a state’s right to set it’s voting hours and locations.

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