The election of a Pope was discussed from the early 1970’s until the actual election was accomplished on July 16, 1990. Father Saenz-Arriaga was the first to discuss this possibility. He personally contacted the conservative cardinals in order to encourage them to declare the vacancy and proceed to the election of a Pope. When this failed, he went with two other priests on May 22, 1976 to meet with Archbishop Lefebvre at Saint Jude’s Shrine in Stafford, Texas to discuss this possibility. He died myteriously two months later in the Houston, Texas area near Saint Jude’s Shrine.
Many were gathered that weekend to receive Confirmation from Archbishop Lefebvre and several talked with one or more of the three priests and this was being discussed by many present. One person who took up the thought and pursued it was Dr. Benjamin Franklin Dryden, who wrote several articles over the years supporting the election of a Pope.
The other two priests present in 1976 with Father Saenz were consecrated bishops by Bishop Peter Martin Ngo-Dihn Thuc in order to preserve Orders until a Pope could be elected to preserve and restore jurisdiction in the Church. Several discussions were held among these priests and bishops over the next several years, including one in May of 1982 in Dallas, Texas and another in early 1983 at which Bishop Ngo-Dihn was also present. Bishop George Musey wrote an open letter to Archbishop Lefebvre about this in late 1983. Also Bishop Ngo-Dihn Thuc’s Wikipedia page mentions this fact. “Thục departed for the United States at the invitation of Bishop Louis Vezelis, a Franciscan former missionary priest who had agreed to receive Episcopal Consecration by the Thục line Bishop George J. Musey, assisted by co-consecrators, Bishops Carmona, Zamora and Martínez, in order to provide bishops for an “imperfect council” which was to take place later in Mexico in order to elect a legitimate Pope from among themselves.”
However, the Thuc Bishops did not proceed to elect a Pope. In 1987 several people became interested in the election of a Pope, beginning with Dennis D’Amico, who was joined by Daniel Leonardi. The latter wrote a letter to about a dozen people to encourage them to work towards the election of a Pope. One of these was Father Malachi Martin, who endorsed later endorsed Will the Catholic Church Survive the Twentieth Century? as the most thoroughly Catholic book he had ever read.
In 1988 Teresa Benns and David Bawden compiled a series of articles to promote the election of the Pope adding several articles to articles by Dr. Dryden and others on the subject. This was circulated world-wide among sede vacantists. In 1989 Benns and Bawden wrote Will the Catholic Church Survive the Twentieth Century?, which went to every sede vacantist group in the world.
This was followed by Election Update to call for the election and update any information from the pre-election book.