The claim: Discussions are underway to cancel the 2024 presidential election
[En Español: No, no es posible cancelar las elecciones presidenciales estadounidenses | Fact check]
A Jan. 14 Instagram video (direct link, archive link) shows a woman saying there are conversations about calling off the presidential elections in the U.S.
“There is more and more talk about a possible cancellation of the elections in the United States this year,” reads the video’s caption in Spanish. “How do you see the possibility that, like Ukraine, the elections in the United States will be canceled?”
The post was liked more than 8,000 times in a week.
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Our rating: False
There are no credible news reports about the 2024 presidential election being called off. The Constitution does not mention any provisions about the option to cancel federal elections. No U.S. presidential election has ever been canceled.
The elections can be delayed but not canceled
Article II of the Constitution grants Congress the power to choose the timing of the general election, according to the National Constitution Center. In 1845, Congress established this would occur on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every fourth year – a date which has served as Election Day since.
The Constitution also mandates that the outgoing president and vice president’s terms end on Jan. 20 at noon and that the president and vice president will have terms of four years, members of the House of Representatives two years and senators six years.
There are no credible news reports of the 2024 presidential election being canceled or delayed.
In fact, there is no way to cancel elections outright, according to a 2020 report from the Congressional Research Service. It states there is no legal provision in the Constitution that allows an outgoing president to stay in office after Jan. 20, outside of the ratification of a new constitutional amendment.
The report states that the presidential election date has never been delayed in American history.
“It is impossible to cancel an election,” said Juan-Carlos Planas, adjunct professor of law at St. Thomas University. “The presidential election is handled by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and they all run separately and independently of each other. Could you postpone or extend the voting on the last day? Yes, but even under emergency situations, there are things in place that would make it so you don’t have to cancel the election.”
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Congress would need to enact a new law (one approved by both chambers of Congress) to delay Election Day since neither Congress nor the Constitution grants this power to the president or any other federal officials, according to a CRS report.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Our fact-check sources:
- U.S. Constitution, accessed Jan. 19, Article II, Section 1
- U.S. Constitution, accessed Jan. 19, Twentieth Amendment, Section 1
- National Constitution Center, April 10, 2020, Does the Constitution allow for a delayed presidential election?
- Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2020, Postponing Federal Elections and the COVID19 Pandemic: Legal Consideration
- Congressional Research Service, Nov. 2, 2023, Election Day: Frequently Asked Questions
- Juan-Carlos Planas, Jan. 18, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- National Geographic, July 31, 2020, The U.S. has never delayed a presidential election. Here’s why it’s so tricky
- National Task Force on Election Crises, accessed Jan. 19, Can the President cancel or postpone the general elections?
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