Can Democrats Replace An Ailing Hillary?

As DNC considers ‘contingency plans’ in the event Clinton cannot complete campaign, state laws mount an obstacle

Hillary Clinton’s recent health problems have Democrats considering a Doomsday scenario.

What would they do if their nominee had to drop out of the race – 60 days before the election?

That’s exactly what some top Democrat officials are demanding their Party start taking action to consider.

Among them is the former head of the Democratic National Committee under the Clinton White House.

“It’s something you would be a fool not to prepare for,” Don Fowler, who served as DNC Chairman from 1995 to 1997 and is backing Hillary, told Politico Monday. “She better get well before she gets back out there because if she gets back out there too soon, it might happen again.”

Fowler wasn’t messing around, either.

“I think the plan should be developed by 6 o’clock this afternoon,” he said Monday morning.

And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t think Clinton is seriously ill and will be back to good health in a few days.

But if a presidential nominee were to be forced out of the race with less than 60 days until Election Day, could he or she be replaced on the ballot?

In most cases, no.

If Hillary were to leave the race for health reasons, Democrats would still be stuck with her.

The only time a major party had to replace a member of their presidential ticket was 1972, when Democrats forced out vice-presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton after it was revealed he had sought electroshock therapy for depression.

But that was on August 1, more than three months before Election Day.

States had not yet printed their ballots.

That’s not the case now.

If Clinton, or another nominee, were to be forced off the ticket, he or she would still appear on most ballots, which have already been printed.

Every party’s presidential ticket has already been submitted to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In order to replace a nominee, at this point, each and every state would have to approve the swap.

And that’s where it gets complicated.

Time magazine reports:

In Colorado, for example, nominees’ names must be submitted to the state elected officials sixty days before election day—that would have been September 9th. In Iowa, it’s 81 days before the election—that was August 19. In Ohio, it’s a full 90 days ahead of election day. Still, the parties could challenge various states where the deadline passed and ballots have not yet been printed.


Historically there has been some leeway in the way the limits are applied. The New Jersey nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2002, Sen. Robert Torricelli, was accused of ethics violations and withdrew from the race 36 days before election day—15 days past the statutory deadline. Republicans objected to replacing him with another Democrat, Frank Lautenberg, but the New Jersey courts approved Lautenberg’s name on the ticket.


In 1990 a Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate was replaced on his state’s ballot little more than a week before election day. “This would be a gray area and there could be litigation,” said Kay Stimson, director of communications at the National Association of Secretaries of State.


If Clinton or Trump were replaced after some early ballots have already been cast, that could be even more complicated. Voting began in North Carolina on Friday and is set to begin in Virginia in late September. It is unclear whether a replacement would invalidate early votes.

If Hillary Clinton, or another nominee, were to leave the race this late in the game, it would set off legal battles in courtrooms across the country, as the opposing party would challenge the replacement and either force their opponents to keep their ticket, or invalidate it.



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