The U.S. Constitution does not grant the president the authority to set or change election dates. Article 1, Section 4 and Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution place that authority in the hands of the the individual states and the U.S. Congress. Since 1854, election day in the United States has been set as the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Any change to that date would need to be approved by Congress.
In Case of Emergency, Call Congress
The issue of the president's authority to postpone elections in the event of an emergency has been discussed at length during recent election cycles. In 2004, there was concern that a terrorist attack could present a need to postpone the elections. The question was raised again in 2012 as Hurricane Sandy threatened to disrupt elections. A July 14, 2004 Congressional Research Service report concluded that the executive branch does not have the authority to unilaterally change election dates. Any changes made to election dates would need to begin in Congress and be approved by the individual states.
- Fordham Urban Law Journal: Could Terrorists Derail a Presidential Election?
- CNN.com: Officials Discuss How to Delay Election Day
- CRS Report to Congress: Executive Branch Power to Postpone Elections
- the Charters of Freedom: Constitution of the United States
- The Atlantic: Could a Hurricane Like Sandy Postpone the Presidential Election?
- Time and Date: Election Day in the United States
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images