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Just in Case You Were Wondering: What Happens if a President Elect Dies?

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Updated

On Nov. 7, after four days of anxiously waiting for all the ballots to be counted, it was finally announced that Joe Biden is our new president-elect.

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As Americans probably spent that historic day scrolling the news for reactions and more information, they may have also been wondering something more morbid: What if the president-elect dies? After all, Biden is nearly 78 years old (the average life expectancy for men in the U.S. is 76, and Biden will the oldest president the U.S. has ever had). 

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So, what happens if a president elect dies?

While Biden appears to be in good health and shows no signs of illness, it's good to know what technically happens if the president-elect dies before getting officially sworn in. If Biden dies between now and Dec. 14 (the day all states's electoral voters officially cast their ballots), what would most likely happen is the DNC would nominate a replacement candidate, and that would most likely be the president-elect's running mate, which is Kamala Harris.

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However, if the president-elect dies before the electoral votes are recorded and certified, members of Congress could technically object any state's tally — and that state's votes could go to a different person. But that would be worst-case scenario. According to The Los Angeles Times, the VP would more likely than not become the president of the U.S. in either scenario. And if you're wondering: The likelihood of the presidency going back to Trump is pretty low, even though he'd no doubt fight for it.

During the time period after the Congressional certification and before inauguration day, the 20th amendment is supposed to kick in. It says "if, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the president, the president elect shall have died, the vice president elect shall become president."

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Luckily, Biden's health was described as "vigorous" and he takes extra precautions when it comes to COVID-19 — unlike Trump and his admin. Biden doesn't drink or smoke, and he reportedly works out five days a week. He weighs 178 pounds and his blood pressure is a solid 128/84. 

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“An older person who has an active lifestyle and is consistently being challenged cognitively can fulfill those duties. Someone who is 95 could have the memory of someone who is several decades younger,” Richard Dupee, MD, chief of geriatrics at Tufts Medical Center, said. 

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Source: Instagram

In fact, odds are, Biden would not only survive one term, but two. According to an academic paper by the American Federation for Aging Research, "Biden has a 79 percent chance of living through a first term and 70 percent chance of surviving through a second term."

So, at this time, keep on celebrating. Biden is here to stay. 

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