“WE WILL WIN!” — @RealDonaldTrump 8:44am on 11/10/20
Despite trailing by more than 5 million votes nationwide and having no credible path to win the Electoral College, Donald Trump and his administration are confident that they are headed to a second term. At this point, they could very well be right.
In order to secure the Presidency, Joe Biden needs to lock in 270 electoral votes before the Safe Harbor Deadline on December 8 or at the very least before the Electoral College meets in each state on December 14. Although Trump has no path to winning the electoral college, he could very well block Biden from securing 270 uncontested electoral votes.
States that Biden won and needs to hold onto including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have Republican-controlled legislatures. If legislatures in enough of those states attempted to seat their own electors on December 14, they could very easily block Biden from gathering the requisite 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. While this wouldn’t put Trump in the lead, it would send the outcome of the election to Congress.
On January 6, 2021 the President of the Senate (Mike Pence) will convene a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate to count the votes of the electors. If some states send two separate sets of votes to Congress (one from the Democratic electors and one from the Republican electors), Congress will need to determine whether to accept one of the sets of votes or to exclude both sets of votes.
That’s where things get dangerous.
If one of the candidates wins a majority of the electoral votes (270) they win the election. If neither candidate secures 270 electoral votes the House of Representatives will choose the President and the Senate will choose the Vice President.
While Democrats currently hold a (shrinking) majority in the House of Representatives, the President is not chosen by a simple majority of representatives. Article II of the constitutions says, “But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote.” That means that the one at-large Representative from Montana has the same vote as all 53 Representatives from California.
Some Congressional races are still too close to call but based on current vote counts House delegations from 20 states have a Democratic majority, House delegations from 27 states have a Republican majority and three states (Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota) are tied.
If Trump is able to block Biden from winning 270 uncontested electoral votes and send the election to Congress, he will very likely secure a second term.
The situation is bad. And many groups on the left are not taking the possibility of a Constitutional power grab seriously. Last week the steering committee of the national Protect the Results coalition, a network headed by Indivisible, Stand Up America, and other mainstream liberal organizations, abruptly canceled a set of national demonstrations planned for November 4th (many local organizers chose to go ahead anyway).
Now, more than a week after the election and four days after every major news outlet called the election for Biden, many on the left are pivoting away from defending democracy and starting to jockey for jobs in a possible Biden administration. Meanwhile the Trump administration is making alarming moves to consolidate power.
On Monday, Trump unceremoniously fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a tweet. Esper had been at odds with Trump since he refused to allow active duty troops to be deployed on US streets against US citizens during the Black Lives Matter uprisings this summer. Trump doubled down on the move by appointing Anthony Tata — a retired brigadier general and Fox News commentator who called Barak Obama a “terrorist leader” as the head of the Pentagon’s policy department.
The General Services Administration is currently refusing to release funds to the Biden’s transition team. On Tuesday, when asked about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the State Department is preparing for a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
And while that is happening, the efforts to gum up the efforts to certification of elections are gaining steam in the states. Just before the election, the Atlantic published a long piece documenting the Republican Party’s plans to block certification of the election results in key swing states. And now they are moving those plans into action. On November 10, state representatives in Pennsylvania held a press conference to lay out their plans to stall the certification of the election opening the door to sending competing sets of electoral votes to Washington.
It’s a long shot… but too dangerous to ignore
To be sure, Trump’s effort to steal the election is a very long shot. It would require that his campaign organize state legislatures to put forward competing slates of electors in at least a handful of battleground states and it would require Republicans in Congress to go along with his plot. And more importantly, it would require the 77 million of us who voted for him to leave office to go along with it. But there is a constitutional path to allowing it to happen. And letting Trump steal our democracy and stay in the White House after losing resoundingly in both the popular vote and the Electoral College is a possibility that is too dangerous to ignore.
We can block this from happening. Right now, Democrats are sitting on the sidelines and Republicans are mostly keeping quiet about Trump’s attack on democratic norms. Off the record they are saying that Trump is just blowing off steam and that he’ll eventually come to grips with the reality that he lost the election and concede. But he’s is clearly not coming to grips with his loss and with every day that passes more of his supporters are joining him in his alternate reality. And with every day that passes alt-right groups like the Proud Boys who have been terrorizing communities for years are becoming more and more emboldened to hit the streets to support their candidate.
It’s time to call the question for politicians, political parties and NGO’s. The people have spoken, and they want Donald Trump out of the White House. Are you with Donald Trump or are you with the people? If you’re with the people, this is the time to rise up to defend democracy.