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Civics question: If both candidates die in a pandemic just before the election...


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What would happen?  Lets imagine one candidate infects the other at a debate and being old men, they both die.

Would there be some sort of special election?  Would VP candidates go on with campaign as usual?  What would happen?

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This was speculated on in the prior election. As well as I recall that consensus opinion was that we are actually voting for a party, not a particular candidate, so it would be up to each party to install the person of their choice. But (1) my memory could be wrong and, most importantly (2) obviously my guess is it would ultimately be an issue that would go to SCOTUS to decide.

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They just did a segment on NPR about this. You aren't actually voting for president, you are voting for electors. Those electors can vote for someone else that the parties put forward (except for states where they have laws that say different).

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Well apparently the betting agencies said that odds on mike pence being president went from 300 to 1 to something like 27 to 1 then betting on the election got suspended.  So I guess it becomes a race between the Vice Presidents?  I don’t know much about us politics obviously!  So 
 

abc (Aus) had a thing On whether the election could be delayed and apparently it can but needs congress to agree so I guess both parties would have to agree before that could happen.

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I've been guessing the Vice Presidential candidate becomes the Presidential candidate and, once sworn in, would have to go through the process to choose a new Vice President. I'd have to look at the Constitution/amendments to figure out what that process is (Since I know its different than original)

 

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They just did a segment on NPR about this. You aren't actually voting for president, you are voting for electors. Those electors can vote for someone else that the parties put forward (except for states where they have laws that say different).

Sort of.  According to the US Constitution, the EC electors have discretion to elect whomever they want (pandemic or no).  As discussed in another thread a week or so ago, the Founding Fathers set up the EC as a safeguard to protect against the possibility that the unwashed masses might be swayed to elect a charismatic demogogue.  At the federal level, that continues to be in place.

However at the *states'* level, virtually all states have passed legislation that both circumscribes the ability of EC delegates to do whatever they please; and also more immediately how candidates get onto the state ballots.  It's not like either party could simply slot a new candidate in at the last minute.  Also, we're already past the last minute in some states, because voting has already started.

OTOH there's no Constitutional provision to delay Election Day either, even if one or both major candidates were to, God forbid, die right before.  So let's all hope that both candidates manage to hang in.

 

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4 hours ago, gardenmom5 said:

VP candidates.

That would be the most likely, but it definitely doesn't have to be the vp candidates. It's whoever the party puts forward. 

I'm hoping that pondering this scenario leads America to nominate people who are not in their 70s for the next election. If there can be a minimum age, there ought to be a maximum age too - and I say that as a pretty old person 😄

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2 minutes ago, katilac said:

I'm hoping that pondering this scenario leads America to nominate people who are not ... for the next election.

So many things that could replace that ellipsis. But we don't seem good at national pondering, do we?

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6 hours ago, vonfirmath said:
Quote

Hasen said he found it “hard to believe” Congress would pass a bill to delay the presidential election, although conceded it was a possibility if one of the presidential candidates were to become incapacitated.

I thought the first Tuesday after the first of November was specified in the Constitution.  Wouldn't it take an amendment to change that, rather than an act of Congress? I seem to recall reading that when Trump made some noise about delaying the election several weeks ago. 

Edited by Forget-Me-Not
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6 hours ago, Pam in CT said:

Sort of.  According to the US Constitution, the EC electors have discretion to elect whomever they want (pandemic or no).  As discussed in another thread a week or so ago, the Founding Fathers set up the EC as a safeguard to protect against the possibility that the unwashed masses might be swayed to elect a charismatic demogogue.  At the federal level, that continues to be in place.

However at the *states'* level, virtually all states have passed legislation that both circumscribes the ability of EC delegates to do whatever they please; and also more immediately how candidates get onto the state ballots.  It's not like either party could simply slot a new candidate in at the last minute.  Also, we're already past the last minute in some states, because voting has already started.

OTOH there's no Constitutional provision to delay Election Day either, even if one or both major candidates were to, God forbid, die right before.  So let's all hope that both candidates manage to hang in.

 

Ok, THIS fills in a gap in my understanding that I had been wondering about in past elections.  Thank you.  

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One of my kids asked what happened if the President of the US or the NZ PM died in office.  I said I thought in the US the VP took over but in NZ the ruling party would vote for a new leader and they would take over.  At the moment or deputy PM is not from the same party as the PM so it wouldn't be him though he would take over until a new person was decided on.  

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24 minutes ago, kiwik said:

One of my kids asked what happened if the President of the US or the NZ PM died in office.  I said I thought in the US the VP took over but in NZ the ruling party would vote for a new leader and they would take over.  At the moment or deputy PM is not from the same party as the PM so it wouldn't be him though he would take over until a new person was decided on.  

In the US, the VP is chose by the president, so the two are pretty much always the same party.  (it wasn't always that way.)  But yes, if the president dies while in office, the VP immediately becomes the president.  Lyndon Johnson was sworn into office on the same flight that took Kennedy's body back.  

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Now that the President is in hospital, does power transfer to the Vice-President ? 

You learn about the hierarchy of power in the citizenship test, but never think you need to actually apply that knowledge. I have been brushing up my civics knowledge since this morning.

 

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8 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Now that the President is in hospital, does power transfer to the Vice-President ? 

You learn about the hierarchy of power in the citizenship test, but never think you need to actually apply that knowledge. I have been brushing up my civics knowledge since this morning.

 

I think (no civics major here) the President must voluntarily transfer power via the 25 Amendment unless he is actually incapacitated. Now, there could be equivocation regarding the definition of “incapacitated,” but obv if the president were unconscious, I assume the VP would take temporary control. 

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If they have to sedate him I'm sure he'll temporarily sign over power to Pence first.

Generally they don't sedate people unless they're already on the verge of death.

Apparently it's not just that he's 74 and obese, he also has high blood pressure and high cholesterol, so he's at higher risk for blood clots already.

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15 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Now that the President is in hospital, does power transfer to the Vice-President ? 

You learn about the hierarchy of power in the citizenship test, but never think you need to actually apply that knowledge. I have been brushing up my civics knowledge since this morning.

 

I don't think this happens specifically because he's in the hospital.

The transfer happens, I think, when the president is "incapacitated."  And being in the hospital does not, in and of itself, equal incapacitation.

If, for example, Trump went on a vent....it would generally be presumed that the VP would be empowered to act as the president.  Having said that, I suspect that generally, anything that wasn't an emergency would be...postponed.  So for example, if Congress passed a bill on a new stimulus check while Trump was on a vent......that would probably sit on his desk until he was able to return or passed away.  But, if Al Queida chose that time to launch a 9/11 style attack, Pence would be empowered to act as if he were the president in whatever presidential tasks were necessary (and he would be protected as such...)

Once a president is actually pronounced dead, the transfer of power is immediate.....much like a monarchy where power transfers from the king/queen to the prince/princess the moment the king/queen has passed.  But because the president is an elected office, even though power transfers from the president to the VP upon death of the president, the VP is still subject to the same term limits.  

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6 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Sorry, basic hierarchy of power question 

It goes President -> VP-> Speaker of the House. Then ? 

President Pro Tem of the Senate

Then the cabinet secretaries in the order they were created. So Secretary of State followed by Secretary of the Treasury

and that's as far as I know

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10 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Sorry, basic hierarchy of power question 

It goes President -> VP-> Speaker of the House. Then ? 

President Pro Tempore of the Senate (currently Chuck Grassley) and then Sec of State (currently Mike Pompeo). 

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11 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Sorry, basic hierarchy of power question 

It goes President -> VP-> Speaker of the House. Then ? 

The  President Pro Tem of the Senate is Chuck Grassley from Iowa.  I think he's in his 90's.

I have not kept up with the cabinet members for this president.  But then through them.

Lets face it, Pence is plently healthy, it wouldn't suddenly become President Pelosi.

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3 minutes ago, Katy said:

The  President Pro Tem of the Senate is Chuck Grassley from Iowa.  I think he's in his 90's.

I have not kept up with the cabinet members for this president.  But then through them.

Lets face it, Pence is plently healthy, it wouldn't suddenly become President Pelosi.

Close. He's 87.

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Wow, there are some really old people in very high positions of power.

I don't know whether to be inspired they are still doing a job that requires a lot out of them or concerned that power at the top is made up of so many older people without sounding ageist. 

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5 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Wow, there are some really old people in very high positions of power.

I don't know whether to be inspired they are still doing a job that requires a lot out of them or concerned that power at the top is made up of so many older people without sounding ageist. 

Yes there are and without getting too political.........

Term limits.  They are a thing many US citizens would desire, but they always get pushed to a back burner.  

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11 minutes ago, lewelma said:

I'm particularly bothered by the idea that I am voting for a party, and if their candidate dies but still wins, the PARTY chooses the president.  That is nuts. 

See, but I can live with that because that happens in an extreme situation and normally there is a primary where people get to choose their candidate. It is one of my most favorite things about American democracy.

From where I come from which is based on the British way, the Prime Minister is the "leader of the party" and it can give way to nonsense like 4th generation dynast leaders who have no qualification except last name at the expense of more qualified leaders because of sycophants. That is absolutely annoying and nuts to me. Thankfully that is changing.

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5 minutes ago, Spryte said:

I wouldn’t be opposed to a maximum age, either.

 

I would.  I'd be okay with some sort of mental competency exam, but there's going to be more and more people living longer and being healthy while they do.  There are medications reversing aging in animals that will be available for humans in 8-20 years.

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9 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

See, but I can live with that because that happens in an extreme situation and normally there is a primary where people get to choose their candidate. It is one of my most favorite things about American democracy.

From where I come from which is based on the British way, the Prime Minister is the "leader of the party" and it can give way to nonsense like 4th generation dynast leaders who have no qualification except last name at the expense of more qualified leaders because of sycophants. That is absolutely annoying and nuts to me. Thankfully that is changing.

I don't have a problem with the party choosing the presidential *candidate* that will go on the ballot for us to consider. I do have a problem with them choosing the *president* after we have voted for someone else who died. 

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Just now, Katy said:

 

I would.  I'd be okay with some sort of mental competency exam, but there's going to be more and more people living longer and being healthy while they do.  There are medications reversing aging in animals that will be available for humans in 8-20 years.

That’s excellent, on the meds!  What great news.  And you make a good point about people living longer.

Yes, I think mental competency exams would do the trick, too, especially if they are administered annually or more often If deemed necessary.

I’ve watched the very slow creep of dementia four times now, so that’s on my mind in a big way at the moment.  Kind of colors my own little bubble right now.  

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3 minutes ago, lewelma said:

I don't have a problem with the party choosing the presidential *candidate* that will go on the ballot for us to consider. I do have a problem with them choosing the *president* after we have voted for someone else who died. 

I came to the US as a young adult and do not know much, so pardon the confusion.

Is the VP becoming president if the elected president dies in office your concern ? I thought that was what happened when President Kennedy died ? 

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7 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

I came to the US as a young adult and do not know much, so pardon the confusion.

Is the VP becoming president if the elected president dies in office your concern ? I thought that was what happened when President Kennedy died ? 

No, I'm talking about something else.

If the president dies before the election and it is too late to change the ballot, then the party chooses the candidate, and we vote for Trump, but know that we are actually voting for someone else. 

But if he dies after the election but before inauguration in January, apparently the party chooses the president.  I had assumed that Pence would be automatically promoted to President, and he would choose the VP, but that is not what I am reading.  Does anyone have clarity on this?

Edited by lewelma
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4 minutes ago, lewelma said:

No. If the president dies before the election and it is too late to change the ballot, then the party chooses the candidate, and we vote for Trump, but know that we are actually voting for someone else. 

But if he dies after the election but before inauguration in January, apparently the party chooses the president.  I had assumed that it would be Pence, and he would choose the VP, but that is not what I am reading.  Does anyone have clarity on this?

I am 90% sure that if a president is elected but dies before innauguration....the VP of that ticket would become the president.

Having said that....I am not 100% sure 

And regardless....such a situation would be a major drama all around.  

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5 minutes ago, lewelma said:

No, I'm talking about something else.

If the president dies before the election and it is too late to change the ballot, then the party chooses the candidate, and we vote for Trump, but know that we are actually voting for someone else. 

But if he dies after the election but before inauguration in January, apparently the party chooses the president.  I had assumed that Pence would be automatically promoted to President, and he would choose the VP, but that is not what I am reading.  Does anyone have clarity on this?

 

Vice-President Elect afaik.  

 

 

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1 minute ago, happysmileylady said:

I am 90% sure that if a president is elected but dies before innauguration....the VP of that ticket would become the president.

Having said that....I am not 100% sure 

And regardless....such a situation would be a major drama all around.  

It was in the Washington Post this morning, but I can't seem to find the article now. Maybe someone else can weigh in.

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1 minute ago, lewelma said:

It was in the Washington Post this morning, but I can't seem to find the article now. Maybe someone else can weigh in.

 

I can give the US Constitution quote:

 

If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Edited by Pen
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found it https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/02/were-final-stages-presidential-election-what-happens-if-candidate-withdraws-or-dies/

what the procedures would be were the president to become incapacitated in two situations: before the election or if he wins and becomes incapacitated before Inauguration Day.

The national organization for the Republican Party is known as the Republican National Committee (RNC). In the first scenario, the RNC would have the power to replace the party’s nominee for president.

The RNC has 168 members — three from each state, plus three from six territories. The RNC’s rules provide that the three members from each state cast the same number of votes that their state or territory is entitled to at the party’s nominating convention.

This means, for example, that Alaska’s three members would get to cast a total of 28 votes. If those three members were to disagree, they would each get to cast one-third of Alaska’s votes. The RNC might quickly agree on a replacement candidate — but if not, the politics within the RNC might become extraordinarily intense.

In some sense, that’s the easy part, given how late in the election process we are now. If there were enough time, the party would seek to put the name of its new candidate on the ballot in each state. There almost certainly would not be time to do this, particularly if the issue only arises two to three weeks from now. The states have various deadlines for when the parties must certify their candidates for the ballot. Those dates have passed. In theory, the RNC could go to court to seek an order permitting it to change the name of its candidate. But there simply would not be enough time to reprint ballots at that point. President Trump will almost certainly remain on the ballot, no matter what happens.

That makes the second scenario the more critical one. Suppose Trump wins the election, even if incapacitated, or becomes incapacitated after the election but before Inauguration Day. This situation is more complex.

The votes for president are cast, of course, in the electoral college. The issue would be how an elector should or can cast their vote if the president wins their state but cannot serve.

In some states, the electors are not legally bound to vote for the candidate who has won their state, though of course, that’s what they do in practice. Indeed, some state laws do expressly provide that electors have discretion in this situation. Republican electors in those states would then most likely vote for the candidate the RNC had put forward to replace the president. The electors in any state (for Democratic nominee Joe Biden or Trump) are likely to be strong party loyalists, if the parties have been careful about who ran as electors on their behalf. If that’s the case, they would likely follow the RNC’s lead.

But a number of states legally bind their electors to vote for the candidate who has won the state’s popular vote. Those laws have a gap: they don’t provide for what electors can or must do if Trump wins their state but can’t serve. When these laws were written, state legislatures were not thinking about this remote possibility.

My view is that even if the electors are formally bound by state law to vote for the dead candidate, they will go ahead and vote for the candidate the RNC has identified to replace the president, if he cannot serve. It is hard to imagine they would be sanctioned for violating these laws; in any event, the sanctions are so mild no elector would be deterred by them in this situation.

Edited by lewelma
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2 hours ago, happysmileylady said:

In the US, the VP is chose by the president, so the two are pretty much always the same party.  (it wasn't always that way.)   

It was that way pretty quickly, though - the 12th amendment was ratified in 1804, when Jefferson was the third president. Aaron Burr was his vice president for the first term under the old rules, and TJ was. not. impressed! Imagine a Trump/Biden or Biden/Trump administration. The mind boggles. 

33 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

Wow, there are some really old people in very high positions of power.

I don't know whether to be inspired they are still doing a job that requires a lot out of them or concerned that power at the top is made up of so many older people without sounding ageist. 

Concerned. I am concerned.

19 minutes ago, Katy said:

 

I would.  I'd be okay with some sort of mental competency exam, but there's going to be more and more people living longer and being healthy while they do.  There are medications reversing aging in animals that will be available for humans in 8-20 years.

Are you okay with the minimum age for president? It's no more or less ageist than a maximum age imo.

I think competency exams would be ineffective at best and a disaster at worst. It's not black and white; there's some nuance and interpretation involved. That's a tremendous amount of pressure for a doctor or even panel of doctors, and of course the other party will always claim it's a political decision. 

When those medications are available, we can address the upper age limit again. But seriously, they have had their chance, move on, lol. Maybe it could be a maximum number of years in 

15 minutes ago, Spryte said:

 I’ve watched the very slow creep of dementia four times now, so that’s on my mind in a big way at the moment.  Kind of colors my own little bubble right now.  

It affects people in important ways long before it would clearly make them fail a competency exam, imo. Competency or mental status exams are geared more toward whether the person can safely take care of themselves and make their own decisions - basically keep themselves alive and not bankrupt, which is a pretty low bar. 

 

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2 minutes ago, katilac said:

It was that way pretty quickly, though - the 12th amendment was ratified in 1804, when Jefferson was the third president. Aaron Burr was his vice president for the first term under the old rules, and TJ was. not. impressed! Imagine a Trump/Biden or Biden/Trump administration. The mind boggles. 

Concerned. I am concerned.

Are you okay with the minimum age for president? It's no more or less ageist than a maximum age imo.

I think competency exams would be ineffective at best and a disaster at worst. It's not black and white; there's some nuance and interpretation involved. That's a tremendous amount of pressure for a doctor or even panel of doctors, and of course the other party will always claim it's a political decision. 

When those medications are available, we can address the upper age limit again. But seriously, they have had their chance, move on, lol. Maybe it could be a maximum number of years in 

It affects people in important ways long before it would clearly make them fail a competency exam, imo. Competency or mental status exams are geared more toward whether the person can safely take care of themselves and make their own decisions - basically keep themselves alive and not bankrupt, which is a pretty low bar. 

 

Yes, I am absolutely okay with requiring someone to have an adult brain for 10 years before electing them President.   Do you not think your maturity grew enormously between the ages of 18 & 35?  It's not ageist, it's just good common sense that has recently been backed up by plenty of neuroscience.

I'd argue that no one should be considered an adult before the age of 25 but I know that would lead to all sorts of military implications that no one would like.

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4 minutes ago, katilac said:

It was that way pretty quickly, though - the 12th amendment was ratified in 1804, when Jefferson was the third president. Aaron Burr was his vice president for the first term under the old rules, and TJ was. not. impressed! Imagine a Trump/Biden or Biden/Trump administration. The mind boggles. 

Right, I was thinking it was along those lines....but couldn't remember the details.

6 minutes ago, katilac said:

Are you okay with the minimum age for president? It's no more or less ageist than a maximum age imo.

I am going to disagree with this, because of the wide variety of capacity in the older age brackets than in the younger.  My grandmother is 87.  She is still sharp as a tack.  My grandfather was 93 when he passed and until just a few months before he passed, he was dismantling laser equipment.....because he was the only person still alive who could do it safely at his company.  He retired *TWICE*.  

It can be legit argued that 90yr olds could actually have the mental capacity to do the job of president.  It could never be argued that 14yr olds could.  Having said that, I would be ok with *lowering* the lower age limit.  I would be ok with someone in their 20s even.  But, I think a lower age limit is necessary where an upper age limit is not.  

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7 minutes ago, Katy said:

Yes, I am absolutely okay with requiring someone to have an adult brain for 10 years before electing them President.   Do you not think your maturity grew enormously between the ages of 18 & 35?  It's not ageist, it's just good common sense that has recently been backed up by plenty of neuroscience.

I'd argue that no one should be considered an adult before the age of 25 but I know that would lead to all sorts of military implications that no one would like.

But I think that people declining as they age is also just good common sense that is backed up by plenty of data, no? 

You can have an individual that is ready for the presidency at 25 just as easily as you can have an individual that remains ready for the presidency at 75. If you're going to play the odds, then play them at both ends. 

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26 minutes ago, Pen said:

 

I can give the US Constitution quote:

 

If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

 

 

Section 3, XX Amendment 

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12 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Right, I was thinking it was along those lines....but couldn't remember the details.

I am going to disagree with this, because of the wide variety of capacity in the older age brackets than in the younger.  My grandmother is 87.  She is still sharp as a tack.  My grandfather was 93 when he passed and until just a few months before he passed, he was dismantling laser equipment.....because he was the only person still alive who could do it safely at his company.  He retired *TWICE*.  

It can be legit argued that 90yr olds could actually have the mental capacity to do the job of president.  It could never be argued that 14yr olds could.  Having said that, I would be ok with *lowering* the lower age limit.  I would be ok with someone in their 20s even.  But, I think a lower age limit is necessary where an upper age limit is not.  

I wish I could say I knew that offhand because I am so widely read, but it is actually because of Hamilton 😁

Oh, yeah, I was not clear enough - I think it's fine to require that presidential candidates be of age, lol. ETA: but if you disqualify all 25-yr-olds, I think you can disqualify all 75-yr-olds. 

Edited by katilac
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10 minutes ago, katilac said:

But I think that people declining as they age is also just good common sense that is backed up by plenty of data, no? 

You can have an individual that is ready for the presidency at 25 just as easily as you can have an individual that remains ready for the presidency at 75. If you're going to play the odds, then play them at both ends. 

I don't think there is any science to support this at all.

Further, I don't think any 25 year old has the life, management, or political experience, let alone the social skills to handle something as complex as an election, let alone leading an entire country. I've never met a 25 year old who would have mastered half the skills required.  I've certainly met plenty of 75 year olds who have.

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I'm not denying that some people who are 75 have dementia.

But then so do some brain damaged 25 year olds.  The skills to handle the rest of it are not there in the young.

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If you want to know just how hard it is to declare a president incompetent, read up on Woodrow Wilson. He had a serious stroke that paralyzed and incapacitated him in many ways, but he was alive and not willing to resign, and his doctors and Congress were not willing to formally declare him incompetent.  It's widely accepted that his wife was actually acting as president for like a year and a half. 

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