By Luis Bravo
Luis Bravo is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying sociology.
Donald Trump - reality star, businessman, Whartonite, and future president? Trump’s rise to political fame has left many wondering, “What else could go wrong in the 2016 presidential race?” In a nutshell- many things! Through a series of completely realistic scenarios, I will explore the laws that act as our government’s crisis control center to learn just how off the rails this election season can potentially get.
What would happen if either candidate drops out of the race? This has been a question that has been raised about both candidates and is addressed by their respective party committees. On one hand, we have Donald Trump. Shortly after Ted Cruz lost Indiana and Trump became the (informal) Republican nominee, various rumors began to swirl on the internet hinting at Trump’s potential withdrawal. Though these rumors died down throughout the summer months, they experienced a resurgence shortly after the Republican National Convention. Citing widening poll margins strongly favoring Hillary Clinton, many believed Donald Trump would bail.  This could have happened one of two ways. If Donald Trump were to formally withdraw from the race, the Republican National Committee would have the power to fill the vacancy by appointing a new candidate. This person would not become the official nominee until state delegates recast their votes in another national convention and the individual received a clear majority. In contrast, if Trump were to simply suspend his campaign, he would still legally be the Republican nominee and would retain his delegates. The Republican Convention would also have the power to contribute “in-kind aid, “essentially continuing his campaign on his behalf. 
On the other hand, Hillary’s recent incident at a 9/11 anniversary ceremony has shed light to the Democratic nominee’s health condition.  Recent medical records released by her campaign assert Clinton’s physical health and ability to perform presidential duties are up to par; many speculate, however, that her medical condition is significantly more severe than publically admitted. Some even contend that the Presidential candidate will drop out of the race. The Democratic National Convention has considerably more ambiguous rules concerning this matter. Essentially, the vacancy would be filled by a majority vote from at least forty percent of all active members, majority of which must be present in person. Together they will collectively decide a course of action and adopt rules and procedures to govern the process. To surmise, the DNC lacks clear guidance regarding how a vacancy would actually be filled, but instead, simply instructs the committee to adjourn a meeting. The rest would be determined soon after. 
How would the United States resolve a tie in the electoral college? As we head closer to November, national polls are beginning to narrow and Clinton’s once substantial lead is gradually dwindling.  This raises the possibility of a tie within the electoral college. Since the ratification of 23rd amendment in 1961, the District of Columbia has been assigned three delegates, raising the total delegate count to 538. This even number allows for a tie between both candidates, at 269 delegates each, one delegate shy of the number required to assume the presidency. Though this might seem farfetched, there are 377 possible scenarios resulting in ties.  In such an event, the president would be selected by the House of Representatives, with “each state having one vote.” In case of another tie, the Vice President would act as commander in chief starting in January as outlined in the 12th and 20th amendments. Moreover, the Vice President would be selected by the Senate, and each senator would have the ability to cast one vote. In case of yet another tie, the Speaker of the House would assume the presidency. 
In case an unfavorable candidate wins the presidency, could states leave the union? Perhaps Bernie Sanders’s supporters in Vermont will be outraged at a Trumpian victory or Texas (Oh, Texas) residents will be completely enraged by Hillary’s ascension to power. Though unconstitutional, states could theoretically secede from the United States in a variety of ways. The legal route would be to ratify an amendment permitting the annexation of individual states from the country.  Similarly, individual residents could petition on Whitehouse.gov to prompt Presidential Administrative Action. In 2012, six states (including Texas) reached the 25,000 required signatures to warrant attention; Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, responded to the request by citing the Supreme Court decision of Texas v. White which effectively outlawed secession.  Additionally, states could also leave by force by rebelling against the state, establishing their own form of government, and acting as an independent agent in its relations with other countries.
Granted, Trump’s ego would probably not allow him to quit the presidential race, Hillary’s health is most likely not an issue, the odds of a dead-tie in the electoral college are virtually null, and states will almost certainly not secede in fear of America’s massive military power. In spite of all this, it is important to remember that all these scenarios are within the realm of possibility so much so that government officials have taken the time to strategize potential solutions. In a race as unpredictable and kinetic as this one, all is fair game.
 Card, Jean. "Will Trump Bail?" US News. August 4, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2016. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-08-04/donald-trump-dropout-talk-is-just-a-rumor-for-now.
 The Republican National Committee. "Vacancies of Members and Officers." In Rules of the Republican Party. Proceedings of The Republican National Convention. Accessed September 22, 2016. https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod-static-ngop-pbl/docs/Rules_of_the_Republican Party_FINAL_S14090314.pdf
 Brander, Eric, Shimon Prokupecz, and Dan Merica. "Hillary Clinton Has Pneumonia, Doctor Says, after Early 9/11 Event Exit." CNN. September 12, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/11/politics/hillary-clinton-health/
 The Democratic National Committee. The Charter & The Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States. Proceedings of The Democratic National Convention. September 11, 2009. Accessed September 22, 2016. http://www.demrulz.org/wp-content/files/DNC_Charter__Bylaws_9.11.2009.pdf
 Hook, Janet. "Hillary Clinton Leads Donald Trump by 6 Points in Latest WSJ/NBC Poll." WSJ. September 21, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clinton-leads-donald-trump-by-6-points-in-latest-wsj-nbc-poll-1474491609
 270 to Win. "Electoral College Tie Finder." Electoral College Tie Combinations. 2016. Accessed September 22, 2016. https://www.270towin.com/electoral-college-tie-combinations/
 United States. About America: The Constitution of the United States of America with Explanatory Notes. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2004.
 Bump, Philip. "So You Want to Secede from the U.S.: A Four-Step Guide." The Washington Post. June 27, 2016. Accessed September 22, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/27/so-you-want-to-secede-from-the-u-s-a-four-step-guide/
 Carson, Jon. "Our States Remain United." The White House. Accessed September 22, 2016. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/peacefully-grant-state-texas-withdraw-united-states-america-and-create-its-own-new
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