WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 has been successfully amended with the passing of the Bartlet Amendment. With the amendment's passage, a special presidential election will be convened for election day, November 4th, 1986.
The amendment was proposed by Acting President Owen Lassiter after many months of protests following President Reagan's December 4th stroke. Given Reagan's neglect of campaigning duties in the '84 election, many consider the former Vice President's acting Presidency to have unofficially started much earlier in the last term.
Freshman Congressman Jed Bartlet, a New Hampshire Democrat and sponsor of the amendment, was quoted as saying "If the President truly suffers from incapacity in any way, then this amendment will insure that the line of succession remains in the hands of the people."
Although special presidential elections have never been called, they existed in law from 1792 until 1947. According to the amendment, a special election shall be held for the presidency on the next federal election day following a 180 day period of acting presidency.
Constitutional scholars for the Associated Press have concluded that following the special election, presidential terms will continue to be held every four years. This two-year offset will continue indefinitely, unless corrected by another special election or further legislation.
Although over a year away, speculation has arisen regarding candidates for the 1986 election. Speaker of the House Wire Newman of South Carolina has formed an exploratory committee, as has Acting President Lassiter. Senator Roland Pierce of New Hampshire was quoted as being open to the possibility, despite earlier criticism of the amendment.