As leaders in both parties prepare for a close presidential election and the potential that it will not yield decisive results, some pundits are speculating about more extreme scenarios.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, for example, opined Thursday that if there is no official electoral victor by Inauguration Day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could take over as acting president, Fox News reported.
“Ends precisely at noon”
Uncertainties regarding mail-in voting and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have caused some officials, including President Donald Trump, to express concerns that the results of November’s election could be delayed.
“It might be right,” Napolitano acknowledged Thursday, according to Fox. “President Trump’s term ends at precisely noon on Jan. 20, 2021. If the Electoral College has not yet named a successor, presumably either Donald Trump or Joe Biden, then whoever is the speaker of the House would become the acting president of the United States.”
Of course, that would only be Pelosi if Democrats maintain their majority status in the House.
While Republicans have already formulated a strategy for possibly taking back control after November’s election, the potential of a President Nancy Pelosi might be enough to convince GOP leaders to redouble their efforts.
“If the Democrats retain their majority in the House, and it appears likely that they will, but if they do, and if they choose Mrs. Pelosi, knowing at that point that they’re choosing the president of the United States, then it would be she,” Napolitano explained, as Fox reported.
Congress holds the power
Since the 2018 midterms returned power to the Democrats, Pelosi has used her position to oppose a range of Trump administration proposals.
Most recently, she has led her party’s denunciation of the president’s coronavirus response plan. While suggesting that the White House guidelines led to unnecessary deaths, Pelosi has offered little commentary on the policies of Democratic governors currently being investigated for potentially facilitating COVID-19 infections among elderly nursing home patients.
It all adds up to a clear indication that this year’s congressional elections could prove especially significant.
In the case that election results are indeterminant, the House would hold a special election to choose a president for the upcoming term, as Napolitano explained. Each state delegation would vote to determine a chosen candidate, and whoever wins a majority of state delegations would be elected.
If Republicans want to avoid potentially giving Democrats a decided advantage in that process, it is vital for them to regain control of the House in November.