Obama speaks: 'people, due to the extent of damage from [insert event], the election is cancelled'

So let’s say in the summer or fall, we have a big terrorist attack or natural disaster (say the Cascadia fault goes active, which it does every 300 years, last time early 1700s). The damage is enormous: 1,000s dead, millions of acres destroyed, rescue infrastructure (equipment, food, medicine, etc.) stretched to the limit. The Big O goes on tv and says that due to technical considerations, logistix, inability to spare anyone from the rescue/damage control operation underway, there simply is no way to prepare the voting system in time for Election Day, and the election is suspended indefinitely until further notice. Even if he’s wrong on the constitutionality (take the example of Obamacare), if Holder supports him (being the top law enforcement official), and Congress is too bz/disorganized to try to impeach, could this happen? We’ve had prez elections everytime since the 1st one, even thru WW2 and the Civil War, when Lincoln and Davis were both re-elected (and of course, the Lincoln election was only held in the Union states).
Is there any provision specifically prohibiting an acting prez from suspending elections? Assuming voting is impractical say in Washington state & Oregon due to the damage & logistix, is there a requirement for all states to participate in the electoral college? Or, could he just sensibly say that all states where a voting infrastructure is in place can vote, assuming they get enough pollwatchers, registrars, etc.? Is there any precedent for this, if not here, then another democratic country that holds free elections? In WW2, the occupied countries couldn’t, but I mean has there been any democratic country that suspended an elected leader election?

There is zero chance of this happening and it grows a bit tiresome to answer the question every few years. It doesn’t even matter who is in power this pops right up.

Obama cannot, unilaterally, suspend a federal election. If he attempted to do so he’d get injunctioned out the ass in a damn heartbeat. Election’s happened during the Civil War and they’d happen in event of disaster. HOW they happen is a state issue and not one for the federal government to answer. But there’s no chance that they wouldn’t.

I would imagine that what would be more likely than cancelling the elections outright would be to have all the other states go ahead and vote and allow the affected states a couple of weeks to get reorganized.

As much as I dislike the electoral college, I suppose it could come in handy here too-- if things were really bad, the state could just allow the electors to vote whichever way they thought things were going to go. It would be a very unideal situation, but at least in the Cascadia scenario, there probably wouldn’t be much doubt as to which way that was. Unless things were so bad that people in the liberal west half of those states no longer outnumbered those in the east…

The office of the president has no participation in the mechanics of a presidential election. The president has no power or authority to stop it from happening.

Presumably such a “decree” would have to be a law signed passed by congress and signed by the president. Even then, as others pointed out, IIRC the mechanics of it is that there are 50 state elections and the agreement of the states is needed? Conceivably the states not directly affected could go ahead.

Of course, they can’t really “allow” or “direct” electors from affected states to vote, because there is no electoral college until the vote. AFAIK the last election’s electors do not get to stay in power and vote again. They’re done in 2008/2009. Not sure what the law says on them, but I presume since it’s never happened, that the governor of the affected state cannot appoint them. Maybe the local election commission can?

Sounds like the process is so complicated that nobody is going to make a wholesale change of date any time.

Has there ever been a case of snowstorm, flood, or hurricane etc. that postponed or extended any signicant part of an area’s federal election?

As for the snide about Obamacare, that too was voted on and passed by a majority of both houses and signed into law. It was not a presidential decree, so I fail to see what the point was in tossing it in. If a majority of 500-plus politicians think something is legal under the constitution, either the system is in dire need of reform or more likely, it’s sufficiently close to the line that there is a valid argument to be made about its legitimacy from either point of view. That is why the final decision is up to an even handed, impartial, non-partisan group who do not bring their personal political views into the decision, eh?

If this is the usual paranoia then presumably the president would have declared martial law and suspended the constitution due to some supposed national emergency and then they start taking people away to the FEMA camps.

heres a link to the same paranoia about bush suspending the 2008 election:

Well, up to a point; if you have something like a serious asteroid strike or the Yellowstone supervolcano goes off, there may simply be no way to contact any survivors. You’d have to go with something like GreasyJack’s electoral college solution. Although that brings up the question of how much representation a state gets in an election (or after) if there’s literally no one left alive there.

The Constitution of the United States says:

You may remember that in 2000, the Florida state legislature was about to appoint its electors, but the Supreme Court handed down its decision before they finished, making it unnecessary.

It seems a study was done concerning postponing elections in 2004 by the Congressional Research Service - The Library of Congress
Mods: I only took three paragraphs from a 19 page report - of course please edit if need be.

From here – WARNING PDF

CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Order Code RL32623
Postponement and Rescheduling of Elections to Federal Office

October 4, 2004

Not even in the states covered under the Voting Rights Act?

Yeah, really, and I seem to recall even some mumblings of that with Clinton… what’s the matter with this? This is Stupid Internet Meme number howmuch?
From all the sources we have, it would take an Act of Congress to postpone the* date the election results are due in* for federal offices. A disaster of such scale that you can’t assemble a functioning rump-quorum of Congress in time (and it doesn’t have to be in DC) to do something would be something of a scale as to make it damn obvious to everyone it’s time for desperate measures.

Yes, there is precedent.

On Sept 11-12, 2004Hurricane Ivan destroyed much of the infrastructure of Grand Cayman. Elections scheduled, and required by law, for early November 2004 were suspended. New elections were set for May 2005, a six month deferral.

About 25% of residences were made uninhabitable. 85% were damaged in some way. Large areas of the island were without electricity and water for at least two months.

The population did not in any serious way complain. We were too busy hauling buckets of water to flush our toilets to really care.

The two smaller islands, which are about 90 miles to the northeast, were not seriously damaged by the storm. They could have organized a November election with no problem.

In Canada, federal elections were postponed for one year during WWI, by vote of the Parliament itself. The election was eventually held in 1917, instead of in 1915 (which would have been the normal four year cycle) or in 1916, which would have been the usual termination for the Parliament elected in 1911.

What I find hilarious is the repetition of this request. I registered here in 1999, and don’t recall any such questions about the Bush-Gore election being cancelled. But Bush was going to cancel the '04 and '08 elections, as well as the midterms in '02 and '06, and now Obama is going to cancel the '12.

It’s as though the past 213 years of cancel-free elections had never happened.

But this time it’s ferreals. You’re forgetting that every previous president has been a natural born US citizen, a Christian, and a lover of Democracy and America. This Obama guy, however…

Good point. We fell victim to one of the classic blunders. Never go up against a Kenyan, when DEATH is on the line.

Well, here’s some armchair lawyering: The Constitution says that they get two senators and one representative, and therefore at least three electoral votes. However, the procedure by which congressional representation is apportioned is set by Congress, not by the Constitution; the Constitution only requires that “representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers.” Currently, it’s done every ten years on the basis of the decennial census. But theoretically, Congress wouldn’t have to wait for the next decennial census if, say, a meteor wiped out Iowa in 2021; they could pass a law reapportioning congressional representation at any time, such as to reduce the representation of a state whose population had fallen drastically.

ETA: If there’s literally nobody left alive, though, and the state is completely uninhabitable? No idea. My guess would be that there would simply be no election in that state, no electors from that state, and whoever got a majority of the other (538-N) electors would gain the presidency.

I remember being told in a very serious manner that there was no way that Clinton was going to give up the presidency.

I see the quote about the constitution did not specify residency requirement. Presumably, the inhabitants of the state on vacation at the time, or recent emigrants to other states could get together and have a set of byelections to fill vacant legislature seats, governnor, etc. and take it from there with a “government in exile”. I assume if even 1 state official is left alive, judge or dogcatcher, they pick up the pieces and run with it? (Yeah, yeah, dogcatcher is city or county… park ranger, then…) Worst case, the people of the state have a constitutional convention to fill in the missing pieces… Depends on the state law and constitution - I asume at least one copy exists somewhere outside the state…

If the feds can create states, perhaps they can declare someone governor or recognize a petition to reboot the state constitution in extreme circumstances too?

Absolutely, you just weren’t reading the right corners of the Internet Bricker! The Clintons had Vince Foster murdered (by Hillary’s own hand!) and Ron Brown taken care of along with a bunch of others in the plane crash in Croatia. You think the Clintons were going to let a little thing like the Constitution stand in their way of a leading a One World Goverment? There were FEMA concentration camp being constructed to deal with troublemakers, UN troops would be deployed to occupy the country! I SAW THE MAPS, MAN!