A reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney if the President has the power to move election day because of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. Immediately after the question was asked, the media sprang into action citing precedents for postponing elections.

The Heritage Foundation’s Marion Smith explains that no such precedent exists:

Looking at U.S. history, it is clear that there is no precedent for postponing a national presidential election, even in the midst of foreign or domestic wars. Moreover, the President lacks the constitutional authority to alter or postpone a national election; the election timetable is specified by statute of Congress as authorized by the Constitution.

In 225 years, the United States has never postponed a presidential election. Elections were still carried out as scheduled during the War of 1812 and the Civil War. And as catastrophic as Hurricane Sandy was in the Northeast, it does not compare to war:

As disruptive as hurricanes are, wars are much more so. Considering that the United States has maintained a regular and uninterrupted national election schedule for more than two centuries, including in times of devastating war, Hurricane Sandy would seem an odd and unlikely reason to postpone the presidential election. Not unlike 1864, it is an opportunity to prove to the world that the American people’s government can sustain a national election even in the aftermath of a terrible hurricane. As such, 2012 is yet another milestone of continuity for America’s experiment in constitutional self-government.

Legally, who has the power to adjust elections? Carney told the reporters that he didn’t know. In fact, if a national election were rescheduled, it would have to be the result of congressional legislation. The President has no such powers, Smith says:

Congress would have to amend the statute setting the timetable of presidential elections since 1854 (3 U.S.C. § 1) as the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President”

Do you think the election should be postponed because of Hurricane Sandy?

Comments (59)

Ellen - October 31, 2012

NO – the election should not be postponed. Obama should not politicize this disaster and use it change the date of the election. If he does, he would be exploiting the destruction of property and the loss of lives to help him get elected. Obama ignored the cries for help from four Americans who died in Benghazi. Now all of a sudden the wants to appear presidential because he thinks it will help his poll numbers.

Marie - October 31, 2012

The election absolutely should not be postponed because of a hurricane!

Dewey Switzer - October 31, 2012

Election should not be postponed.
We have never done it even in wars much worse than “Sandy”
If it happened it would be viewed as purely political.

E.P. WOOLLEY,JR. - October 31, 2012

What is the motto of the postal system?Surely a national election can be held under simular circumstances.This conversation is directly connected to the Obama committee for foul play.If katrina had happened prior to the election of “08” would the media be even talking about postponing the election?Not on your life.

Herrmann Glockler - October 31, 2012

Continue election as planned

Anthony Rasavage - October 31, 2012

If our country has never, since its inception, postponed an election, I don’t think we should start now. I would think that an election as important as this one, people will find a way to get their vote in and accepted. God Bless America, say a prayer!

John R. Hamilton Jr. - October 31, 2012

Absolutely NOT; and I use the word “absolutely” for its true meaning. Up till Pinocchiobama became our President, our Constitution has “stood for something”.

We CANNOT let this person who “pretends” to be our President use some method to alter/change our election rules, which would REQUIRE A CHANGE to our Constitution.

mach37 - October 31, 2012

No, do not postpone the election. Speaking for NYC, people can still walk or ride the bus. Subway out of service is no excuse.

Medra Pattillo - October 31, 2012

No. The clean up will be done and there will be plenty of time for people to vote. Also, it is not fair to everyone who voted absentee if the election is postponed. It is unprecedented for an election to be postponed due to weather. The Hurricane has passed so the weather will be normal on election day and everyone who wants to vote will have the opportunity to do so. If our troops can find time to vote in worse circumstances then citizens should be able to brave bad weather to vote.

David Wilkinson - October 31, 2012

No, the President cannot and should not be able to move election day. It would be politically motivated to give him more time to shore up his dimming election hopes.

Linda - October 31, 2012

I would say no postponement because “big government” should be able to handle it if they can handle big disasters, as Matt Mayer says it does.

Angela Halstead - October 31, 2012

No, while I know it may be very difficult for some people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy to get to vote, many people have had difficulties in any election, and we should follow our Constitution.

Bernard P. Giroux, Dartmouth, MA - October 31, 2012


Donald Wright - October 31, 2012

President Obama has never allowed pesky precedents–such as, oh, I don’t know, the Constitution or Congress–to impede the advance of what he terms “moving forward.” If he could postpone an election because of a hurricane, he would construe all manner of subsequent conditions as demanding the postponement of the election–indefinitely–thus “moving” him “forward” to becoming the King (aka, dictator) of the United States.

Colin D. Ciley - October 31, 2012

A thousand times NO! In years to be, there most likely will be times and conditions when continuing the elections process will be “inconvenient”.
If the gates to that situation are ever opened some other guy from Chicago will use that excuse to steal that election.

Ron Baklarz - October 31, 2012

Postpone the election? Heck No!! Not the time for precedent thinking.
Postpone any and all pay/stipend increases to all Fed employees until the national budget is balanced.
Tie their increases to the health of the national economy and taxpayers ability to support the Feds employees…

Lynne Grando - October 31, 2012

NO – I agree 100% with Ellen

John K Daugherty - October 31, 2012

No! Take any reasonable steps to allow the people to vote, but maintain constitutional rules.

william tappan - October 31, 2012

the election must not be postponed for any reason.

Nick Gilliam - October 31, 2012

Absolutely not. The election date is clearly specified in the Constitution

Ken Carter - October 31, 2012

No ! We had an election during a civil war. We’ve had elections during two world wars, natural disasters, and massive rioting in numerous city’s. Life and elections move on.

Peter - October 31, 2012


Fred S Bossard - October 31, 2012

There are three choices: No, No and No

William Cook - October 31, 2012

Delay the election……absolutely NOT! Obama would just be trying to buy more time to tell more lies about Romney and promise more “nothing” for the next four years. What a worthless socialist Obama is….

M. Tracy - October 31, 2012

Of course not! However, its typical of the progressives to throw the possibility of election postponement out there…..they’d postpone it permanently, if they could.

Fedup - October 31, 2012

Hell no – we have to have closure ASAP!

Michael - October 31, 2012


Fred - October 31, 2012

Absolutely not! This may well be the most critical election in our nations history–and it should not be postponed for any reason.

Pam - October 31, 2012

NO! People had plenty of warning the storm was coming. That is what early voting is for. Stock exchange is open and there is still time for people to vote.

R0y Draper - October 31, 2012

No. The members of Congress are scattered across the country, and it’s not likely that they can get back in time to pass a bill to postpone the election. When you consider the lack of any meaningful action by the Senate in the last couple of years, Congress won’t have a bill in time. SO, that leaves it up to Obama and all his liberal followers. He hasn’t paid much attention to the constitution so far so why not now? I say watch out!

Doug Middleton - October 31, 2012

NO postponment! Full speed Ahead!!!!

Lynn Caldwell - October 31, 2012

NO, the election should NOT be postponed!

RuthAnn Crow - October 31, 2012

Definitely not.

Carol Temple - October 31, 2012

No. Not for any reason. If the Obama administration is allowed to use the hurricane as an excuse to postpone the election, they will continue to abuse the Constitution and federal election law for their own purposes.

Paul - October 31, 2012

Hell NO

Athur Hasselbrink - October 31, 2012

Hell no. The Constitution is the God Given document that governs this Republic,. not a democratic society.
If Obama again flaunts our Constitution through executive order, we should through the House, start impechment proceedings immediately. Enough is Enough

A very concerned veteran of WW11 and Korea

William Siciliano - October 31, 2012

NO, NO, and NO!!

Carol Bartz - October 31, 2012


Diane Winston - October 31, 2012

Absolutely not!!!

John Smith - October 31, 2012

If we give him that authority, we might have well have been crowning Obama king. He has broken the Constitutional rules enough already.

Besides, I’m sure that they can come up with ways to get people’s vote in. How about setting up voting stations near the evacuated areas or using the internet somehow? Just be sure to keep an eye on the Dems and make sure that they don’t rig it.

Janet Kowalski - October 31, 2012

I absolutely do not think the election should be postponed. Mr. Obama better not try this trick. He has acted like the little dictaor too often already, and this would be the last straw.

Lois Wright - October 31, 2012

The election should not be postponed because of a weather situation, no matter how tragic. Why? Because there have been ample opportunities afforded to the voting public to vote early, and to vote by absentee ballot. If Barack Obama tries to create an executive order to modify our election law in any way, it will be clear he is trying to help those who might vote for HIM. Remember, the Northeast is largely Democrat.

Harry Mathis - October 31, 2012

The election should absolutely NOT be postponed.

Eugene Baginski - October 31, 2012

Not under any circumstances. NO!

Michael Ornelas - October 31, 2012

Wall Street is up and running everything in America is business as usual why should we postpone the election. The sooner we get this election behind us we can start to rebuild the United States of American and the eastern seaboard. Renew our hope in the American dream by changing the destructive path we have been led down for the last four years.

Irish2 - October 31, 2012

Absolutely not. Continue as scheduled.

BobbyReynolds - October 31, 2012

No. Definitely not.
The sooner President OBama is ex-President, the better off we will be.

Jane McAdory - October 31, 2012

Absolutely not!

Leon Beverly - October 31, 2012

With this President, just by the press raising the question, he will have the gall to executive order a postponement to show he can. And from what I see of our legislature, they likely would not do any thing about it!

linda glaser - November 1, 2012

yes, 2 wks. and i hope during that time i would like to see the embassy coverup exposed by then.

Doug Nicholson - November 1, 2012

Should the election be postponed?
As of now, 47 “NO” votes, 0 “YES” votes!

Diana Hudgens - November 1, 2012

Absolutely not! The election should go ahead as scheduled. The president has no constitutional power to postpone an election. The Founders had the right idea; it is only a small step from postponement of an election to cancellation of an election…and the end of our constitutional democracy!

J E Houser - November 1, 2012

Of course not ! But I am constantly reminded that those in Washington are a self centered group with no regard for the Constitutrion as written. We must repeal the 17th Amendment, and restore a CONSTITUTIONAL government.

Elizabeth Luton - November 1, 2012

Noo way the election should be postponed.

Cynthia Cocker - November 1, 2012

No. The election shouldn’t be postponed! Obama has no power to make any changes to our electoral system, but I don’t trust him any farther than I can throw him! He has taken power before the Constitution doesn’t give him and run roughshod over us! He’s getting desperate because he knows he’s going to lose in a landslide, and delaying the inevitable won’t change a thing. This man is a disaster for our country, life and liberty. I didn’t want him elected in 2008 and I actually prayed that night for Jesus to return!

Helen - November 1, 2012

NO — I couldn’t stand the wait any longer. Need to know Obama is gone and gone for good.

Ted Biondo - November 3, 2012

The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was established by an act of Congress in 1845 as the date for states to choose their presidential electors. The Civil War, the Great Depression nor World War II has changed that date and neither should a hurricane.

Regardless, the president doesn’t have the power to change the date, however, President Obama hasn’t let the law or the Constitution stop him from issuing over 900 Executive Orders during his current term!

aaronschmidt|hurricane sandy - November 5, 2012

Wow.I think postponing it or not will just prolong the battle,the people are just going to switch sides and the candidates get more time to show the people who is better.

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