The business media Quartz published a polemical article explaining what would happen if Joe Biden, whose victory over Donald Trump was announced by the American media, were to die before the day he takes office. The subject caused outrage among some Twitter users.
On Saturday 7 November, a few minutes after CNN and other media announced Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, the US-based site Quartz discussed the scenario of the President-elect’s death before 20 January, the day he takes up his office. The media apologized on Twitter for having relayed this information and deleted the tweet containing the link to the article.
“We deleted an earlier tweet of a story explaining what happens if the president-elect dies before taking office. We hoped to help those searching for the answer to this question. It was posted to our Twitter account in error,” says Quartz.
Indeed, several Internet users have expressed their resentment to the news site for having dared to mention this scenario. “It was really bad taste,” said one of them. Another considers that their excuse is not valid and finds the subject “embarrassing”. Still, others argue that this question is legitimate, given Biden’s age (77).
In his article, which has not been deleted, Quartz introduces the question by acknowledging that “this might sound morbid”, but points out that the Democrat is the oldest elected President in history, especially since the epidemic of Covid-19 is raging in the country.
Three possible scenarios
The media outlet recalls that Biden will not be officially President-elect until 14 December during the electoral college vote. If he were to die before that date, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would have the option of appointing a replacement candidate, possibly Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Suppose Biden dies between that vote and that of Congress on 6 January, which certifies the President’s election. In that case, Congress members can oppose the election results and, if both houses agree, shift the votes to the opposing candidate, Trump. “It’s hard enough to imagine Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the Democratic Party in the House, agreeing to hand over a state to Trump under any circumstances,” says Quartz.
Finally, if Joe Biden’s death is announced between January 6 and 20, the 20th Amendment comes into effect. It provides for the Vice-President (Harris in this case) to take the President’s place in the event of the latter’s death before the start of his term.