Safeguarding Federal Elections from Possible Terrorist Attack: Issues and Options for Congress [October 27, 2004]   [open pdf - 126KB]

"Concerns have arisen that terrorist attacks near the November 2, 2004 federal election might be launched to disrupt voting and affect the outcome. As a result, questions have arisen about what might be done both to prevent such attacks and to respond to any that occur. Deliberations have centered largely around two questions: If a terrorist attack occurs, should the election be postponed, in whole or in part, and if so, by whom and under what authority? What steps should and are being taken to enhance security for the election? Questions about election postponement include who has the constitutional authority, to whom could such power be delegated, and what legal limitations exist. Congressional authority to regulate elections may vary depending on what contest or contests are affected. The executive branch does not currently have authority to set or change the times of elections, a power reserved for Congress under the Constitution, although Congress may be able to delegate such authority. Either Congress or the states might also pass legislation in response to a terrorist attack that would change the timing of any elections that were affected."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32654
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