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What happens if a presidential candidate and his (or, one day, her) running mate die right before the election?

Federal law mandates that the states select members of the electoral college (remember we don't vote directly for the president) on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

State law, however, covers all the other rules about ballots, etc.

Federal law does cover ties (the House of Reps. gets to decide; one vote per STATE) but niether federal nor state law has much to say on the whole "in-the-event-of-a-dead-candidate" issue.

One could imagine the party in need of a candidate quickly coalescing around a replacement (probably, but not necessarily, the runner-up in primaries). The problem would be getting the ballots changed in all 50 states (plus absentee ballots etc.). You could avoid that problem with a massive, party-led write in campaign, but that would place quite the handicap on the party.

In short, there is no set procedure. It's one of those (admittedly unlikely) constitutional problems-in-waiting, similar in that regard to the problem that will arise the day one candidate wins the electoral college vote and another wins the popular vote.

If you really want to know more on this issue, you could start here:


astounded his graduate poli sci learnin' could ever come in handy here (yeah, yeah, or anywhere) :p

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