Can There Be A New General Election?

The CIA has concluded that Russia interfered with the US presidential election with the goal of ensuring Donald Trump's victory, The Washington Post reported Friday. Whether this actually affected the result is unclear, but at least one former CIA officer is now floating the idea of having a revote. Can there be a new general election?

"Having worked in the CIA, if we had been caught interfering in European elections, or Asian elections, or anywhere in the world, those countries would call for new elections, and any democracy would," ex-CIA operative Robert Baer said on CNN. "If the evidence is there, I don't see any other way than to vote again."

Is this possible? Not really, no. Okay, there's nothing in the Constitution preventing another election from being held, but the chances of this actually happening are, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. There are many reasons for this.

For one, elections are managed and run at the state level, so every state would have to agree to have a revote in order for one to take place. This is extremely unlikely: In 27 states, the official tasked with overseeing elections* is a Republican, according to Ballotpedia. Those states include swing states like Ohio, Florida and Michigan, and also solid blue states like New Jersey and Washington. It's unfathomable that these Republican officials would agree to a redo of the vote, given that their party's candidate already won the first election.

Perhaps this wouldn't be necessary if Congress passed a law mandating a new election, and President Obama signed it. But Republicans control Congress, so they'd have no incentive to do this.

Second, even if the states did hold another election, the GOP-controlled Congress would have to certify the votes that the electoral college would cast based on the new vote. There's no way Congress would ever do this if Hillary Clinton won the revote; Republicans would argue that a second election shouldn't have been held to begin with, and that Trump won fair and square the first time around (even if he didn't). This is because, again, Republicans in Congress would prefer Trump to be president.


What about Obama? Could he step in and demand a revote? Sure, but there would be no Constitutional way for him to enforce such a demand. He couldn't make Congress to pass a law mandating new elections. He couldn't make every state's Secretary of State to hold a new election. And he couldn't force Republicans in Congress to certify the results of the new vote, if one were to be held. Unless Obama wants to flatly violate the Constitution and justifiably be called a dictator, he can't make a revote happen, either.

A new general election simply isn't in the cards, given the partisan makeup of the government at the federal and state level. Barring anything truly out of left field, Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20.

*In most cases, this position is called the state Secretary of State (not to be confused with the U.S. Secretary of State). In Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the position is called Secretary of the Commonwealth, though it functions the same. The position doesn't exist in Hawaii, Utah or Alaska.