Session 1: From Election Day (Nov 3) to Meeting of Electors (Dec 14)
Hypothetical Scenario 1.3: Florida hurricane prevented voting on Election Day
If the difficulties of holding the November election amid the COVID-19 pandemic were not bad enough, with voters still afraid to go to the polls because the virus had not been vanquished—and indeed, as scientists predicted, a resurgence of coronavirus occurred in the fall (nor any vaccine or cure yet developed)—Florida was hit with a massive category-5 hurricane on Monday, November 1. Governor DeSantis, as part of declaring an extra-heightened state of emergency, ordered that no in-person voting could occur on Tuesday, November 3, but instead, all state and county personnel were required to be available for disaster relief associated with the complexities of the hurricane during the pandemic. The state legislature, with the governor’s approval, made the immediate decision that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the state to reschedule the presidential election in time for all vote-counting procedures to be complete before December 14, the nationally uniform date for presidential electors to cast their ballots. Consequently, in an emergency bill signed by the governor, the legislature nullified the previously scheduled popular vote for the appointment of the state’s presidential electors and instead appointed the state’s electors directly itself. In doing so, the legislature observed that President Trump had been consistently ahead of his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, in public opinion polls conducted in the state and, therefore, the legislature declared that it was appropriate to directly appoint as the state’s electors those already pledged to support President Trump. The Florida Democratic Party then sued in federal court, claiming that the complete nullification of a popular vote for president in the state violated the fundamental right to vote, as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, and that even if states originally had been permitted to appoint electors directly, they no longer were free to disregard altogether the popular will of the state’s voters when appointing the state’s presidential electors. The Trump campaign has moved to dismiss this suit for failure to state a claim, as resting on an erroneous interpretation of the Constitution. Should the federal court grant the motion to dismiss?