Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/Hypothetical Presidential election scenario


I've been kicking this idea around in my head for a possible piece of writing I want to do (fiction) but I'm not 100% sure I have something that I can run with. Let me throw this out there.

For illustration sake let's just say my idea is having a sitting VP being the nominee for one party and a Governor being the nominee for one party. The election is called in the VP's favor pretty comfortably - he has over 300 electoral college votes. Similar margin to Obama/Romney - not a total landslide but pretty comfortable. The Governor calls and concedes and gives his concession speech.

As the VP heads out to make his speech, he drops like a sack of potatoes to the ground with a massive stroke. The stroke doesn't immediately kill him but incapacitates him and keeps him from taking office.

I know nothing is official until the electoral college actually does their thing. What would actually happen in this case? Does the losing candidate have any recourse in disputing the election since the result wouldn't actually be final until the College meets? Would this be one of those situations where the House would have to get involved?

I appreciate any insight you can give me into this situation. Hopefully this develops into something I can put on the big screen. The story won't be from the POV of the campaign but that of the media covering.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to your response.


Even if a President elect were disabled, there is no legal justification that could challenge the election.  A disabled President still meets the qualifications for office.  Even if the President elect died or was otherwise ineligible to take office, their is no Constitutional or other legal justification for any interference in the electoral college vote.

Under the scenario you describe, the electors would have the option to select a new candidate to vote for President.  The only way the Governor would have a chance would be to convince a sufficient number of electors to switch their votes.  Since electors are typically chosen because they are strong partisans who are most highly likely to go along with the party winner, the odds of them switching to the opponent are highly unlikely.  If there was good reason not to vote for the winning Presidential candidate, they would likely support the Vice Presidential candidate.  The most likely scenario in the case you describe is that they would vote for the winning candidate anyway, then let the VP take over as President once the President was declared incompetent to serve under the 25th amendment, or automatically as a result of the President's inability to take the oath of office on inauguration day.

The losing candidate's best bet would be to push for the electors to vote for another candidate of the same party, perhaps someone who did very well in the primaries.  If some electors changed their votes and no candidate received an absolute majority of electoral votes, then the election goes to the House of Representatives, where each State delegation gets one vote.  If the losing candidates party controls a majority of the State delegations in the House, they could give the Presidency to him.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

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