To be clear, I hope he dies, and I don’t care who knows it, and the notion that he might die alone and gasping for breath from a disease that he refused to do anything to prevent is so karmically beautiful that I almost don’t know what to do about it.
A few years ago, I was trying to not be that kind of person; I have given up that fight. It’s lost. I hope he dies. He’s a terrible person and he’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of dead people and the fact that my mother never got a funeral and his painful, solitary death would be one of the very few 2020 events that counted as positive.
That said, it’s a little bit constitutionally complicated, so let’s run through some scenarios.
If he dies before the election: Mike Pence becomes President until at least Jan. 20. It is too late for the Republican Party to put anyone else’s name on the ballots. They are printed and thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people have already voted, and state deadlines have passed. However, continue reading.
If he dies before the election, and loses the election: Mike Pence is still President until Jan. 20, there is likely no Vice President named, and Biden becomes President on January 20.
If he loses the election, then dies: As above. Pence takes office until Jan. 20.
If he dies before the election, and wins the election: This seems unlikely but isn’t impossible, and is where it starts getting complicated. The Republican party is in control of both their nominees and their nomination process, neither of which are specified in the Constitution, since the Constitution knows nothing of political parties. Furthermore, remember, you’re technically not actually voting for President, you’re voting for electors who are bound, sometimes not actually legally, to vote for that person later. There would, no doubt, be a quick party convention where someone– presumably Pence– would be nominated for President, along with a different VP. The Party would then inform their electors in the states they won to vote for whoever the person they chose was. This would have the potential to get really, really interesting if the Republicans find out they can’t coalesce around a single candidate, but that goes beyond my knowledge of the procedures involved. This would skirt some state laws that require electors to vote for the person that won the popular vote in that state, but I don’t see actual prosecutions being likely in this case, although that little wrinkle has potential to make this even more complicated if, say, there’s a state that he won that somehow has a Democratic legislature and governor.
If he wins the election, then dies before the electors have voted and the votes are officially certified by the House: The Electoral College votes on December 14, over a month after the election, and then there’s over a month between the Electoral College voting and the actual inauguration. This is where it gets really interesting. Pence still takes office for at least a little while, but I don’t know if things still work the same way as they would if he wasn’t alive for the election. I think they probably do, so long as the electors have not voted yet, the party can still scramble to pull an actual ticket together, and it wouldn’t automatically be Pence.
If he wins the election, the votes are certified, and then he dies: Pence becomes President, and remains President for the second term, as far as I know. For all I know, it ends up in the Supreme Court, because holy shit is there no precedent for this, but I don’t see it coming out any other way.
Not a lawyer, blah blah blah. If you see anything I’ve blatantly gotten wrong, let me know.