Washington: The US presidential election on November 6 cannot be postponed though superstorm Sandy has left many towns under water and millions without power in several key states along the East Coast.

Without passage of a new federal law, voting for President is required to take place next Tuesday as planned to elect the 45th US President.

But, partial postponements of voting in some affected areas are possible, consistent with the laws governing the election of the president and vice president, CNN reported.

Explaining the reasons, the report said that when Americans go to the polls on Election Day, they are not voting directly for their choice for president or vice president. Instead, they are voting to select representatives – or "electors" -- to the Electoral College, the body that actually determines who will be President and Vice President.

The Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine "time" of choosing those electors. In 1845, Congress passed a law that set Tuesday immediately following the first Monday in November of every election year as Election Day across the country.

The same law also gives states some leeway in picking electors to the Electoral College. But to exercise that leeway, a state must have "held an election for the purpose of choosing electors," and "failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law." When that happens, the law says "the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such manner as the legislature of such state may direct."

Based on this, the Congressional Research Service, a federal agency that provides legislative research support to Congress, concluded in a 2004 report that a state could probably hold presidential voting on Election Day in places unaffected by a natural disaster but postpone it until a later date in affected areas without violating federal law.

But the law passed by Congress setting Election Day only allows a state to pick its electors on a later date if it has already held an election on Election Day and "failed to make a choice" on that day, the report said.

So a complete statewide postponement would arguably violate the 1845 law, the 2004 report suggested. But the report also pointed out that the Supreme Court has emphasised the role states play in selecting the presidential electors, so a state might be allowed to postpone an entire statewide vote for President in emergency circumstances like a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama and Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden are running for a second term. Their major challengers are the Republican Party nominee Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his running mate vice-presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan.

Superstorm Sandy, which hit America on Monday, has claimed at least 70 lives. Neighbourhoods in New York and New Jersey were still water-logged and rescue workers were still pulling out bodies from ruins.


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