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Democrats Facing Potential Legal Hurdles if Biden Exits Race

 July 10, 2024

Democrats considering urging President Joe Biden to withdraw his 2024 candidacy are facing significant legal and logistical challenges in replacing him on ballots.

The conservative Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project is prepared to take legal action to ensure strict compliance with election laws if a replacement process occurs, as the Washington Examiner reports.

Recent discussions among Democrats have highlighted the complexities of changing the presidential ballot, largely because of varied state laws and the timing of any potential change.

This debate takes place amid increased scrutiny on Biden's declining mental and physical health, raising questions about his suitability for the candidacy. The Democratic Party, approaching its August convention in Chicago, remains divided on supporting Biden.

Battleground States Face Potential Legal Challenges

In battleground states, many experienced significant changes to election laws in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, some states have charged officials with election interference while others have modified voting processes. These alterations add to the complexities of a potential Biden withdrawal.

States like Wisconsin have specific laws that could complicate replacing Biden close to Election Day, mandating that a nominee remain on the ballot unless they die. In contrast, states like Nevada allow for candidates to be replaced until Sept. 3. The varying laws create potential high-stakes legal issues the Democratic Party must navigate if they choose a new nominee.

The Republican Party is reportedly ready to challenge any attempts to replace Biden in these battleground states.

Intraparty Strife Intensifies Over Biden’s Candidacy

Following a recent Democratic debate that amplified intraparty tensions, the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project issued a memo on June 21 warning of the legal challenges involved in replacing Biden. Mike Howell, the executive director, emphasized their commitment to enforcing election laws akin to those in 2020.

“Our interest is not one of partisan or these political games. Our interest is that the rules are followed, and we want to prevent another situation like 2020 where the rules were not followed,” Howell stated. He warned that improper substitutions or withdrawals of candidates would activate legal action from their organization.

Howell also foreshadowed possible legal challenges from other groups backing third-party candidates like RFK Jr., Cornel West, or Jill Stein.

Convention Dynamics and Delegates’ Role

The Democratic National Convention scheduled to start on August 19 could see delegates nominate a different candidate if Biden withdraws. Nearly 4,000 delegates pledged their support to Biden, but he needs a majority to secure the nomination. Delegate dynamics could shift if a different candidate is proposed.

The convention itself may be largely symbolic, following a virtual meeting on August 7 due to complications with Ohio voting laws. Columnist Chris Stirewalt noted that a Biden withdrawal would transform the convention into a chaotic contest for the nomination.

James Zogby suggested holding a mini primary before the convention to select a new candidate if Biden withdraws. Despite the potential solutions, Howell expressed skepticism, noting that while a legal avenue may exist for replacing Biden, it is unlikely it would be done appropriately.

Implications of Late Ballot Changes

If Democrats move to replace Biden post-convention but before September deadlines, complications with ballots could ensue, inviting further legal challenges. Nicole Kelly explained the complexities of such a change, remarking that late adjustments could confuse voters and provoke challenges from outside groups.

“It becomes messier when you don’t put the real nominee on the ballot,” Kelly stated, underscoring the likelihood of voter confusion should Biden be replaced too late in the election cycle.

In certain states like Georgia, differing motivations around election integrity could lead to unpredictable outcomes. Howell speculated that states weak on election integrity issues could be more accommodating to campaign demands, further complicating the legal landscape.

With Biden’s potential withdrawal leaving the Democratic Party in turbulence, all eyes are on how the party will manage the legal and logistical maze ahead.

Summarizing, Democrats face a myriad of legal and logistical challenges if Biden withdraws from the 2024 presidential race, with various state laws and potential Republican opposition complicating any path forward.

The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, focused on enforcing strict election laws, is prepared to launch legal action against improper candidate substitutions, further adding to the uncertainty and potential chaos within the Democratic Party ranks as they approach their national convention.