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WASHINGTON -- Is it possible the election will be up in the air and we won't have a president on Inauguration Day: Jan. 20, 2021?

Even if the election is messy and contested in court, the country will have a president on Inauguration Day. The Constitution and federal law ensure it. Here's what happens after voters go to the polls on Nov.


First, states have more than a month to count ballots, including the expected surge of mail-in ballots, and conduct recounts if necessary. But states' electoral votes have to be cast on Dec. 14.

Courts will be mindful of that in refereeing any disputes. During the 2000 election, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ended Florida's vote recount, saying time had run out before electors were set to meet.

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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del.

When the electors meet, the candidate who gets at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes wins. But what happens if election issues still prevent a winner from being named? The Constitution has an answer.

The 12th Amendment says that in that case, the House of Representatives elects the president and the Senate elects the vice president. The new Congress that enters in January is the one tasked with carrying out the so-called "contingent election." The president has only been selected this way once, in 1825. The winner was John Quincy Adams.

In a contingent election, House members have to choose among the three people with the most electoral votes. Each state delegation gets one vote, and 26 votes are required to win. In the Senate, the choice is between the top two electoral vote-getters and each senator gets a vote, with 51 votes required to win.

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Watch President Donald Trump's full speech at the White House for the RNC.

What if that fails and the House hasn't elected a president by Inauguration Day? Then the 20th Amendment takes over. It says the vice president-elect acts as president until a president is picked. And if there's no vice president selected by Inauguration Day?

Well, then the Presidential Succession Act applies.

It says that the speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate president or a Cabinet officer, in that order, would act as president until there's a president or vice president.

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Tags: politics politics election day government joe biden 2020 presidential election president donald trump inauguration day vice president electoral vote a president

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150 US Chefs and Restaurateurs Urge Votes for Joe Biden

More than 150 US chefs and restaurateurs this week signed a letter urging public support for Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden, saying their industry faces an "existential crisis" due to President Donald Trumps mismanagement of the pandemic.

"The Trump administration blew the pandemic response," reads the open letter. "Now, the industry is expected to lose an estimated $240 billion by the end of this year, and many restaurants and small businesses are on financial life support."

Since the start of the crisis "the restaurant industry has begged this administration for support ... Yet, at every turn, the President has mishandled the response."

Trump "has proven his unfitness to hold the office of the presidency. He has failed the restaurant industry, our employees, our customers, and the stakes are too high to continue down this path ... We need to elect Joe Biden" as the next US president, the letter read.

Bidens campaign did not immediately provide the names of people who signed the letter.

But according to the specialty magazine Eater, more than 150 chefs and restaurateurs have signed the document, including chef Elizabeth Falkner, pastry chef Duff Goldman, New York chef and cookbook author Anita Lo, and Nina Compton of the restaurant Compere Lapin in New Orleans.

Some, like Falkner, are active on Twitter and were already participating in Biden campaign fundraisers.

The pandemic has been a gut punch to the restaurant and hospitality industries.

In many cities, including New York and Los Angeles, restaurants can only open outdoor dining areas.

New York has authorized theaters to reopen on Sept. 30, but at only at one quarter capacity, as is the case in Chicago.

A recent study by the New York City Hospitality Alliance found that nearly nine in 10 restaurants could no longer fully pay their rent.

© AFP 2020

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