#107 - Delaying Elections (Watt Thoughts) 7/27/2004
The issue has recently appeared concerning delaying elections in the United states if a major terrorist attack occurs. The administration in Washington has directed John Ashcroft to study this and determine methods to do this if it is feasible. There was projection that the 9/11 Commission final report was going to include recommendations on this issue, but it did not that I can find in the report..
This is an issue that should have been studied long ago and plans made for. I always assumed that there were contingency plans for this. For instance, during the cold war if the USSR bombed us in late October what would we do? Even before 9/11 we should have had plans if a major terrorist attack occurs near an election.
This issue has publicly surfaced after the attacks in Spain in March and the perceived effects on their election. Secondly is the release of the possibilities of attacks between now and the election (if the administration had given us same information before 9/11 (if they had known), would it have been believed, or would the reaction be same as now 1.) non-shalant or 2.) outcry that it is only political verbiage?
Throughout our 225 plus year history as a nation we have basically never changed elections except for hours or a day for a few times for weather. We can look at the rest of the world and see what people will go through to vote. Are we better than them? NO. There may be times we need to face adversity to vote and we can deal with these adversities.
The argument for delaying elections is the effect that terrorists or an attack can have on the vote. Many believe that Spain election hung on this. If we were to delay the elections for an attack, the terrorists win in my opinion. It would also give the impression the current officeholders (Congress, Executive, Republican, Democrat, etc.) are becoming dictatorial and that our republican democracy is in trouble. If we had an attack, I hope we don't but I fear that most likely one will occur, then the elections need to go on.
We shut down air traffic, the stock markets, etc. after 9/11. Although we gained some valuable environmental knowledge, I believe we should have moved to re-establishing them sooner, although the stock market shuts down for special situations regularly.
We do need to study the issue and see if legal to delay the elections. (as a side note since so many did not like our method of determining elections in 2000, and it is being brought up again now in 2004, why has there been no proposals in Congress for a different way?) If it is legal, we should work to prevent the delays. Either way our leaders will be prepared and can make correct decisions. If we decide to be able to delay elections (I assume this would require legislative and executive branch approval) then the process needs to be established and made known. That way no conspiracy theories of terrorist attack were part of a plan by a president or political party to stay in power.
It will be in the best interests of our current national leaders that this study is not done behind closed doors (see energy policy study, health care policy study, 9/11 commission) so that everyone understands what is proposed and why. We are on a good start on this by announcement that Ashcroft is to study it, thereby knowing who is doing study. It will benefit this president, future presidents, and congressional leaders for all to know the process of determining and what the process will be.
This is a process that we need to know just like the presidential succession method. Just as in presidential succession we hope we never need, we need to know that a junior member of a state legislature kills the president, that it would not be a coup and he/she the new president, but that the vice president would assume the presidency and our republican democracy continues.
I hope that these recommendations are that neither rain, sleet, or snow or terrorist attacks will stop the elections and that the elections will go on. (See postal slogan and acting line).
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