Biden Won | Will There Be An Electoral College Coup?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 11, 2020 by Attorney Michael WellsPodcast– Legal Fact and Fiction

On November 7, 2020, Joe Biden unofficially became the President-Elect, and Kamala Harris unofficially became the Vice President-Elect. Normally the losing candidate, in this case Donald Trump, accepts defeat and contacts the winner to congratulate him or her. Not Donald Trump. He made unsubstantiated claims of “voter fraud,” and then he never backed down. This likely surprised very few as Trump claimed back in 2016 the election was rigged, and he claimed it was rigged again in 2020. What is troubling, however, is most of his party, led by stalwarts such as Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, continue to argue Trump has every right to challenge the election results. And these fears became more real when on November 9th Attorney General William Barr opened up a probe into “voter irregularities” without alleging any evidence. It all smacks of hyper partisanship, and it raises the question as to whether an Electoral College coup is afoot. 

Every four years the Electoral College meets in December. Each state’s electors then vote for the candidate who prevailed in the presidential race in their respective state. This is how it almost always happens. Different states certify their elections on different dates, but the Electoral College meets on December 14, 2020 and votes.

This year Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada proved decisive. Nevada certifies its election on November 16th. Michigan and Pennsylvania certify their elections on November 23rd

All legal challenges must be filed by December 8th, the so-called “Safe Harbor” date. In other words, challenges cannot be lodged after that date. It should be noted all challenges filed by Donald Trump’s campaign have been dismissed thus far. One filing was improperly filed and therefore rejected.

This is a short summary of the legal process involved. In all likelihood, everything will run smoothly, and Joe Biden will be declared, officially at least, the President-Elect. 

This does not answer the question as to whether Trump’s supporters, both elected and otherwise, will accept the results of the election. Quite frankly, it does not matter if they accept the results. 

Recent rhetoric from supporters has sounded alarm bells such as Senator’s McConnell’s statement that Trump was “100% within his rights to challenge the results of the election.”

On November 10th, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said:

Conservative commentator Bill Kristol responded, “Be alarmed,” in response to this troubling statement. And he is right. 

Perhaps the best quote as to the vagueness and lack of substance of “voter fraud” came from Senator Lindsey Graham, who said: “And we will continue, in spite of my democratic colleagues protestations, we’re going to find someone accountable for something, when it comes to crossfire hurricane.”

Legally, the important dates to keep in mind are:

  • December 8th “Safe Harbor” deadline (no lawsuits after this date).
  • December 14th Electoral College meets and votes (it is over after this date). 

Are there conspiracy theories out there? Yes. Could there be violence? Yes. Sadly, violence is always possible in America, but legally speaking not much will happen. The Electoral College will meet December 14th, and Joe Biden will officially become President-Elect. Again, this all assumes we do not fall into lawlessness and utter chaos. If we do, the law will not matter. 

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The Electoral College

One of the most resounding objections against the GOP in 2017 has to be: “Party over Country!”

The majority of us were consistently stunned with GOP decision-making that appeared to malign the country while benefitting the party.

The never-ending daunting issues, challenges, and conflicts created major turmoil and unrest for the majority of us who did not vote for trump. With trump’s popularity plummeting following an endless stream of extreme Executive Orders, and without any attempt by trump to invite the majority into the conversation and find bipartisan solutions, we need to dig deeper into the Electoral College process and strengthen this particular check & balance to prevent this type of hostile takeover from happening again.

A year ago, the public conversation was focused on the Electoral College. Electors cast their votes in their states the first Monday following the second Tuesday of December (tomorrow, a year ago). So a year ago today, a tidal wave of news headlines called on the Electoral College to vote their conscience rather than along party lines. Millions of us believed that if they did it would likely upend trump’s apparent win (despite trump’s losing the majority of votes in the national election on November 8, 2016).

But even this didn’t work.

I was recently reminded that when James Madison and the Continental Convention created the Electoral College in 1787, there were no political parties in the United States. Initially, our founders believed that despite the many differences that existed amongst the public — this because of varied backgrounds, education, local landscapes, religions, professions — the public all shared similar moral principles, so we would use our principles and common sense when voting. (Jefferson phrased it, “many different opinions, but all the same principles.”) Our founder never envisioned we’d devolve into a binary system for electing a president.

Back when those who formed the Continental Convention were vigorously debating the concepts to include in the Constitution, (Madison explained to Jefferson in a letter how daunting this huge monster challenge was, “To adjust the clashing pretensions of the large and small States. Each of these objects was pregnant with difficulties. The whole of them together formed a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned in the execution of it. Adding to these considerations the natural diversity of human opinions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle.”), the founders eventually envisioned that there might be five strong candidates that would rise to the top and become contenders for the two most important posts: president and vice-president.

So with no political parties, and with the founders hoping for a strong five candidates to emerge and become the presidential contenders, would the Electoral College as it was intended have netted the same result as the broken binary 2016 Electoral College?

I honestly don’t believe it would have.

I therefore have 3 takeaways from the past 12 months:
(1) It’s time to rethink this binary system that results in party allegiance over national best-interest.

(2) If the party system was redesigned (following the Blue wave in 2018 which we desperately need, I’m a registered Independent so this is my Independent perspective), then we could correct the broken Electoral College check & balance.

(3) And let’s simultaneously correct the representation-denying issue of gerrymandering that is another negative outcome of the two party political system we’ve devolved into, enabling millions of Americans to finally have a voice in Congress that has long been blocked. Ω

©Copyright 2017. All Rights Reserved.