Thursday, January 5, 2017

Alternet on the amoral Electoral College

UP TO NOW, it was all kinda sorta theoretical. The billionaire attention addict and carnival barker Donald Trump appeared to have won the 2016 presidential election, defeating Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College tally, despite Trump losing the headcount vote by 2.86 million votes.

All the concerns about possible Russian involvement in the corruption of our election, about possible voter disenfranchisement in some states, about the manifestly unqualified/underqualified sociopathic opportunist leading the Republican Party came to nothing. The Donald was about to take power.

Comes now a new reason to think again, to rethink everything and, for some, to rethink the idea of a do-over election.

Steven Rosenfeld of Alternet reported Wednesday: “More than 50 Electoral College members who voted for Donald Trump were ineligible to serve as presidential electors because they did not live in the congressional districts they represented or held elective office in states legally barring dual officeholders.”

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That conclusion is the outcome of the Electoral Vote Objection Packet, a 1,000-plus legal brief put together by a bipartisan group of pro bono legal scholars for Congress, which votes on Friday in a joint session to certify the results of the election.

Rosenfeld continues: “While there have been calls to challenge that certification—including one women-led effort saying Trump's victory is due to voter suppression targeting people of color—the analysis that scores of Trump electors were illegally seated, and the additional finding that most states won by Trump improperly filed their Electoral College ‘Certificates of Vote’ with Congress, is unprecedented.”

“Trump’s ascension to the presidency is completely illegitimate,” said Ryan Clayton of Americans Take Action, who is promoting the effort. “It’s not just Russians hacking our democracy. It’s not just voter suppression at unprecedented levels. It is also [that] there are Republicans illegally casting ballots in the Electoral College, and in a sufficient number that the results of the Electoral College proceedings are illegitimate as well.”

“We have reason to believe that there are at least 50 electoral votes that were not regularly given or not lawfully certified (16 Congressional District violations and 34 Dual Office-Holder violations),” the executive summary of the Objection Packet said, in Rosenfeld's reporting. “The number could be over a hundred. We urge you to prepare written objections for January 6.”

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CLAYTON CITED one example — the notoriously extravagant historical example of Florida — to make his case to AlterNet. “Pam Bondi is the attorney general of the state of Florida and the Florida Constitution says that you cannot hold two offices. And she holds the office of Attorney General and she holds the office of federal elector in the Electoral College. That is a violation of the law. That is a violation of the Constitution. And the vote that she cast in this election is illegal.”

Citing the Packet report, Rosenfeld lists a series of states implicated in the apparent electoral illegality, states that pretty span the country: “The report lists the following states and illegitimate electors based on voting outside their congressional districts — what amounts to carpetbagging: Arkansas (two from outside its congressional district); Indiana (one), Louisiana (one), Michigan (one), North Carolina (seven), Oklahoma (one), and Texas (three).

The Packet report lists states and other electors who filed illegitimate votes based on their being dual-office holders: Alabama (two), Florida (12), Georgia (four), Iowa (two), Kansas (four), Kentucky (one), Michigan (one), Missouri (one), Nebraska (one), North Carolina (one), Ohio (one), Oklahoma (two), Pennsylvania (two), South Carolina (one), South Dakota (three), Tennessee (two), Texas (four), Utah (one), and West Virginia (three).

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And if all that wasn’t enough, Rosenfeld reports, “[a]pparently, 23 states—out of the 31 that cast Electoral College votes for Trump—did not properly report separate vote counts for president and vice-president to Congress. That violates the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution” and federal law.

“[E]ven if a challenge is mounted and fails,” Rosenfeld wrote, “it underscores the illegitimate basis of Trump’s presidency and the deep opposition to it, and refutes the GOP’s outrageous claim that it has a mandate for dismantling government programs across the board.”

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ROSENFELD’S STORY, which was picked up by Salon, makes its strong civic case for doing what some have already proposed, as pigs-might-fly unthinkable as it may be: a do-over of the election.

Former CIA analyst Robert Baer said as much last month on CNN, when the first suspicions of Russian meddling in our election were reaching fever pitch. “We’ll never be able to decide whether they changed the outcome, but I tell you, having worked in the CIA, if we had been caught in European elections or Asian elections or anywhere in the world, those countries would call for new elections — and any democracy would,” he said on Dec. 17.

About four weeks ago, Massachusetts playwright Myra Slotnick started a petition calling for a new election. The initial group of 40,000 supporters has grown; at this writing it’s more than 117,000 — and this well before the recent disclosures about the electors.

It probably won’t gain the traction it needs to take hold among people in the tens of millions. But for an administration preparing to chart a luxury-cruise course for disaster ... it’s just one more thing — for them to ignore, and for us to regret.

Trump: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters. Alternet logo: © 2016 Alternet. Pink Floyd pig flies:

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