Replacing a deceased election candidate a complicated process
If I cast my ballot before Nov. 3 and the candidate I voted for dies, is the rest of my ballot still valid? And would I get to vote for my candidate’s replacement?
— Warren C., via email
Your votes still count with an expired candidate; however, replacing a candidate who dies is a complicated process — no matter whether it’s a state candidate or a candidate for president of the United States.
We’ll start off with state offices. The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office has laws in place for “vacancy in nomination” covering what happens when a candidate for state office dies or becomes disqualified after ballots are printed, according to an election law summary on the state’s website.
If the state candidate was affiliated with a major political party, their political party would determine a replacement under the party’s rules, according to the law.
It gets more complicated if the candidate wasn’t affiliated with a party.
“If the only candidate nominated to a nonpartisan office dies, withdraws or becomes ineligible, or if a vacancy occurs in the nonpartisan office after the 70th day before the primary election and on or before the 62nd day before the general election, a candidate may file a declaration of candidacy or a nominating petition,” according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Associated Press earlier this month explored what happens if a candidate for president dies, and the answer is similarly complicated.
“It’s never happened in a country with a long transition between Election Day at the start of November and the start of a president’s new term on Jan. 20,” the AP wrote Oct. 4. “The Constitution, as well as state and federal election laws, would help guide the country through the process. But with no precedent, the outcome is far from certain.”
There likely wouldn’t be a revote if a candidate were to die. Instead, it’d be up to the Electoral College. Representative electors would likely coalesce around the party’s vice presidential candidate or other pick from the party.
Congress finalizes the election under the 12th Amendment, and congress has decided three elections in American history, but the last time that happened was in 1876.
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