What Happens to the Election if Trump is Incapacitated?


Mei Dotzler, Reporter

With just 5 weeks until Election Day, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19. This arises an abundance of questions from Americans with the imminent election, and what should happen to the country if Trump cannot perform his duties?

If a president cannot serve, the 25th Amendment clearly states: “In case of the removal of the president from office or of his death or resignation, the vice president shall become president.” So if Trump, 74, faces threatening symptoms, Vice President Mike Pence would resume the presidency until/if Trump was well enough to reclaim his authorities. The Constitution plainly states what should happen if the president cannot serve, but it is up to Congress what should happen if the vice president also cannot serve. However, Pence, 61, tested negative for the virus Oct. 2.

If Trump cannot run anymore or dies before the election, then it’s up to the Republican National Committee to choose a new replacement nominee. But since over 63 million ballots have been sent out, and nearly 3 million have already been cast, there is not enough time to print new ballots with the election only a month away. The only other option is to push the election date — the first Tuesday after Nov.1, this year falling on Nov. 3 — but only Congress can change the date of the election.

If Trump is elected but dies before the election, then the 20th Amendment states the vice president-elect would be sworn into the White House Jan. 20. However, the winning candidate does not become the president-elect until Congress counts the votes from the Electoral College Jan. 6.

So the question remains if Trump were to be indisposed before the election, then what should happen to his already casted votes? Do they suddenly become invalid and are those individuals sent new ballots with a new candidate name on them? Or do the votes immediately transfer to Pence? Congress has yet to make a statement.