Biden's Executive Order Misinterpreted: No Election Suspension Powers Granted

 May 4, 2024

In today’s politically charged environment, misinformation can quickly escalate concerns among the public.

According to AFP Fact Check, Contrary to viral claims on social media, President Joe Biden has not been granted the power to postpone presidential elections, even during emergencies.

On April 12, 2024, President Biden signed Executive Order 14122, which effectively shifted the responsibilities of the COVID-19 coordinator to the Office of Pandemic Preparedness Response. This order also saw the end of some pandemic-era safety protocols, such as mandatory masking.

Misinterpretations began to spread following this order, particularly on social media platforms. A Facebook post dated April 26, 2024, erroneously stated that the executive order would allow President Biden to suspend elections if a new pandemic were to occur.

Clarifying the Actual Powers of the President

This claim, however, holds no water in the face of constitutional law.

According to Michael Morley, a professor specializing in election law at Florida State University, the responsibility to set electoral dates squarely falls within congressional authority, not the presidential office. "The Constitution allows Congress, not the president, to set the date of presidential elections," he emphasized. The executive order signed by Biden does not change this fundamental principle.

Furthermore, discussions about such powers are not new and have surfaced under different presidencies, including during the 2020 elections and in 2004, amidst terrorism threats. State laws and court decisions may, in exceedingly rare and critical situations, permit adjustments to election timing. However, as Professor Morley elucidates, even these do not empower the President to intervene directly.

Impact of Misinformation on Political Climate

The spread of false information regarding presidential powers and election timing is not only misleading but can also undermine trust in the electoral process and governmental institutions. In response to the misinformation, fact-checking organizations and electoral experts swiftly corrected these claims, clarifying that the executive order issued by President Biden on April 12, does not in any way affect the election timetable, set for November 5, 2024.

Here is further clarification from Michael Morley, "State law or court rulings may allow for an extension or postponement in the very rare, unlikely, and extreme case a catastrophic disaster prevents voting from occurring on Election Day within a state or otherwise precludes a substantial fraction of a state's electorate from casting ballots that day. But President Biden would have no control over that." The public needs to rely on verified sources and understand the scope and limitations of presidential powers, particularly in aspects as critical as election timing.


Educational efforts to increase public understanding of the constitutional limits of presidential powers and the roles of different governmental branches could help mitigate the spread of such unfounded claims.

As citizens and voters, there is a collective responsibility to examine the credibility of information, especially when it pertains to the fundamentals of our democracy, such as election integrity.

Ensuring that factual information prevails over misconceptions is crucial in maintaining the robustness of democratic institutions and the electoral process.

President Joe Biden's Executive Order 14122 focuses on restructuring the administrative response to pandemics and does not grant any authority to alter scheduled elections. As the U.S. gears up for the presidential election on November 5, 2024, understanding the true contents and implications of such orders is key to maintaining an informed and engaged electorate.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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