If the FBI reopens the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server or they open an investigation into Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified material, is it possible to postpone the election? Either to allow the democrats to come up with another candidate or for Hillary to get cleared of the allegations?

If it is, who would be triggering it?

  • 6
    Contrary to what many have said, the investigation has not been reopened, nor is there yet reason to believe it will be.
    – Batman
    Oct 30, 2016 at 23:36
  • 4
    Not quite a duplicate, but this question has the same answers as Can US Election Schedules be changed in an Emergency?
    – Bobson
    Oct 31, 2016 at 1:46
  • 1
    Why do you say the election hasn't been re-opened? Comey sent a letter to Congress expressing just that. Also the Clinton Foundation is being investigated as well, the WSJ reported this weekend.
    – user9790
    Oct 31, 2016 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


The Current President's Term Must End

No matter what else happens, Article II, Section I of the Constitution sets the President and Vice President's terms at 4 years. Whether there is a new election or not, they must vacate their offices January 20.

Congress sets the date of the election

The same article gives Congress the ability to set the specific date of the election. They have met this obligation through a law (US Code Title 3, Chapter 1, Section 1) which says:

The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.

Would it be reasonable to pass a new law?

The election is currently scheduled to take place in 9 days. Should Congress pass a law unusually quickly, the President would need to sign it before it had any legitimacy (or the President would have to veto it and Congress would need to override that veto). Unless the President and Congress are both completely on board, this is highly unlikely to happen.

For discussion, let's suppose they passed this act and it became effective on Monday, October 31st. At this point, states and parties have already heavily advertised the date of the election, election sites have been chosen and election workers hired (or recruited) for those dates. Changing the date of the election would require a massive amount of coordination and likely be perceived as unreasonable by the states and parties.

State Laws

Many states also have laws which set the election date. For example, Kansas has KSA 25-101(a), which requires an election every-other year on the same date as the federal election.

State legislatures may not be in session, which means it would be impractical for them to change their laws this quickly. We can only speculate what would happen, but it would likely mean a sleepless night for Attorney Generals across the nation. It could mean that state elections happen on the required date, but federal elections happen on a new day.

Why would they?

Accusation of having committed a crime does not prevent someone from running for the presidency or being elected. Nothing in someone's criminal history prevents them from being president. There would be no (legal) reason to change the election date.

If voters decide this issue is important, they can choose not to vote or vote for someone else.

  • 1
    Also worth noting that most states also have laws about the election day which may or may not need to change, depending on how they're worded. You might end up with all state elections on one day but president and/or all federal elections on a different one.
    – Bobson
    Oct 31, 2016 at 1:47
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    If you want to get technical, the current president's term must end early next year.
    – cpast
    Oct 31, 2016 at 2:29
  • @cpast - Technically correct is the best kind of correct. This is now reflected in the answer. Oct 31, 2016 at 13:18

It appears that federal elections could be postponed via an act of congress:


I'll leave it to you to decide how plausible that would be with our current congress.

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