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Just in time for Halloween: Worst-case scenarios for the election

Political Theater, Episode 149

What could go wrong with Election Day and its aftermath? Plenty. Political Theater outlines the worst-case scenarios.
What could go wrong with Election Day and its aftermath? Plenty. Political Theater outlines the worst-case scenarios. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 2020 election is “rounding the corner” — sorry, I couldn’t resist — but here we are, just a few days out from Nov. 3, which means it’s almost Halloween. And what better way to recognize the spooky nature of All Hallows’ Eve than to discuss the scary worst-case scenarios for the elections?

Disputed counts! Lawsuits! Candidates refusing to concede! States sending multiple sets of electors to be counted! Runoffs! The House and Senate refusing to seat members!

On the latest Political Theater podcast, CQ Roll Call politics editor Herb Jackson and CQ Roll Call legal affairs senior writer Todd Ruger discuss the terrifying potential tumult.

Some of the worst-case scenarios we discuss, which are not without precedent:

  • Civil unrest prevents people from voting and threatens to invalidate results from key states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina.
  • Delays in counting mail-in votes prompt legislatures to certify electors whom they prefer, but who might be different from those voters prefer.
  • On Jan. 3, when the 117th Congress convenes, disputes break out on the floor about whether House and Senate members should rightfully be seated because of disputed elections in their states.
  • On Jan. 6, when a joint session of Congress presided over by Vice President Mike Pence convenes to count electoral votes, multiple states send competing slates of electors.
  • Runoffs in Georgia after the Jan. 3 convening of the Senate keep in suspense who will hold the majority in that chamber.
  • On Jan. 20, Inauguration Day arrives, and there is no president to take the oath.

We’re not saying any or all of this will happen. It’s just that some versions of this have either happened before or are within the realm of possibility.

Just a little something to add to the anxiety. At least we don’t have to worry about Mars attacking.


Show Notes:

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