With the VP hopefuls girding for tonight's debate, it's natural to wonder what would become of their respective tickets should either presidential candidate die or otherwise become incapacitated before Nov. 4. Each party has its own protocol, explains Nina Shen Rastogi, writing for Slate, but in neither case does the running mate automatically get the nomination.
The RNC would call for a national convention or vote by state reps. The DNC doesn't have an explicit provision. What's more, the possibilities multiply when the timeline expands to include Electoral College voting day on Dec. 15, but the real drop-dead date is Jan. 6, when a joint session of Congress formally counts that vote. If the president-elect then dies before beginning his term, the vice president-elect steps in, a la the Miss America first runner-up.