- The president suggested postponing the presidential election in a tweet on Thursday, but he doesn’t have that power
Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that the November election should be delayed. Can he do that?
No. The president cannot act on his own to move the date of the election. The constitution gives state legislatures and Congress the ability to set the dates of elections. It does not give the president any power to do so.
Article 2 of the US constitution, which outlines the powers of the executive branch, specifically gives Congress the power to set the “time” when states choose their presidential electors. In 1845, Congress set the day for choosing presidential electors as Tuesday following the first Monday in November in a presidential election year. Congress could move the date of the election by changing the law, but the president could not unilaterally do so.
The 20th amendment also says that the four-year term of the president and vice-president ends on 20 January. It also calls for the terms of members of Congress to begin on 3 January.
“If there is no new president-elect (or V-P-elect), then the Twentieth Amendment calls for an Acting President on noon on January 20, with Congress having written a statute that would put the Speaker next in line,” Ned Foley, a professor at the Ohio State University, wrote in an email. The speaker is currently Nancy Pelosi.