Rescheduling

A quick thought on the question of rescheduling elections after a terrorist attack. A lot of people are invoking the example of the 1864 election to demonstrate that there’s no need for such a dramatic step. I think it does establish that — it’s very unlikely that we’d see anything of the sort of magnitude that would make it impossible to hold an election. On the other hand, part of the reason they didn’t delay the ’64 election is that delaying it a week or two (or three, or…) would have actually accomplished anything — you’d still be in the middle of a civil war. In the terrorism case, it’s easy to imagine circumstances where a two week delay really would alleviate a logistical problem.

At any rate, I’m sympathetic to the view that there should be a process which can be invoked under any sort of circumstances that might arise. In the aftermath of an attack would it really be a good idea to delay an election? I don’t know. My gut says “no.” But the day after an attack isn’t the best time for the congress to start figuring out how such a thing would be done, were it to be done. Vesting Tom Ridge with discretionary power over this seems like a terrible idea but there’s probably a better solution we can come up with.

[And, yes, the subtext here is that the Bush administration has a secret plot to destroy democracy, but I’m trying to stay level-headed. If the time comes to mount the barricades, I’ll be there. Until then, the blog comment on the substantive policy issues.]