Line of Succession

I’ve had to type these words a few times today. Typed them more than a few times over the last few days, especially since listening to this podcast.

Radiolab – What If? – October 23, 2020

What happens if Trump doesn’t go? What if he stays in the White House?

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I would like to point out that this contingency is covered. There is no need to fret about this subject. If the election is muddied to the point where there is no clear victor, then Donald Trump’s term in office still ends on January 20, 2021.

Donald Trump will not be president after that date. (especially since the election says he didn’t win. -ed.) It is a fixed point in time beyond his ability to alter. The nuclear codes will go to the next person in the line of succession. That person is also set in stone in a way that he cannot change it. The presidency will pass over the Vice President, who will also no longer be an office holder on that date, and it will come to rest on the speaker of the newly seated House of Representatives.

If there is one thing that you can rely on in this alternate reality we currently inhabit, it is that the military will follow procedure and dutifully remove the codes from Donald Trump’s hands on that date and they will hand control of the military to the next person that law dictates is his successor as president. That person will most likely be Nancy Pelosi. That is, if Joe Biden doesn’t win outright. We’ll know when the new legislature takes office.

Everyone can calm down now. Please.

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What about a contingent election?

…you think you know something and then someone asks a question that you don’t have an answer for. A contingent election?

In the United States, a contingent election is the procedure used to elect the president or vice president in the event that no candidate for one or both of these offices wins an absolute majority of votes in the Electoral College. A presidential contingent election is decided by a special vote of the United States House of Representatives, while a vice-presidential contingent election is decided by a vote of the United States Senate. During a contingent election in the House, each state’s delegation casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, rather than a vote from each representative. Senators, on the other hand, cast votes individually for vice president.

The contingent election process was originally established in Article Two, Section 1, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution. The procedure was modified by the 12th Amendment in 1804, under which the House chooses one of the three candidates who received the most electoral votes, while the Senate chooses one of the two candidates who received the most electoral votes. The phrase “contingent election” is not found in the text of the Constitution but has been used to describe this procedure since at least 1823.

Contingent elections have occurred only three times in American history: in 1801, 1825, and 1837. In 1800Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the presidential and vice-presidential nominees on the ticket of the Democratic-Republican party, received the same number of electoral votes. Under the procedures in place at the time, this necessitated a contingent election the following year to decide which would be president and which vice president. In 1824, the Electoral College was split between four candidates, with Andrew Jackson losing the subsequent contingent election to John Quincy Adams, despite having won a plurality of both the popular and electoral vote. In 1836faithless electors in Virginia refused to vote for Martin Van Buren‘s vice-presidential nominee Richard Mentor Johnson, denying him a majority of the electoral vote and forcing the Senate to elect him in a contingent election.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I had heard of those three instances in history. I had never looked at how the votes are cast in the House of Representatives. Now that I’ve looked I don’t think I’ll sleep well until after December 8th or December 14th. I won’t sleep well, because the Republicans do control more states in the House than the Democrats do. Once again I’m struck with the injustice of 7 million more votes for Joe Biden not counting as a victory in and of itself.

If Trump succeeds in corrupting the vote certification process in an attempt to throw the election to the House of Representatives, all bets are off. Never mind that Donald Trump didn’t win in any real sense of the word, not even the technicality that he took the presidency with in 2016. This time he will steal the election right in front of our faces. What will we do then?

Since the Democrats do control the House of Representatives and since the vote certification can be shown to have been corrupted, I would think that the House could simply refuse to act and allow the line of succession rules to take over, as I originally theorized. It’s not like Mitch McConnell hasn’t done exactly the same thing for the last decade. I guess we’ll find out.

Author: RAnthony

I'm a freethinking, unapologetic liberal. I'm a former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. I'm a happily married father. I'm also a disabled Meniere's sufferer.

Attacks on arguments offered are appreciated and awaited. Attacks on the author will be deleted.