(PresidentialHill.com)- Did Donald Trump’s campaign do something illegal or improper by trying to persuade specific states? Not likely.
Lobbying state legislators on electoral votes are rare and may be undemocratic, but not illegal. State legislatures have the power to appoint electors. During the Jacksonian era, state legislatures implemented legislation giving electors to the popular vote winner.
Forty-eight states use winner-take-all, while Maine and Nebraska use congressional districts. Thirty-two states and DC have rules that penalize “faithless electors” who vote for someone other than their state’s popular vote winner. Supreme Court recognized state legislatures’ power to pass such laws.
State legislatures can revoke the power to appoint presidential electors without voter involvement. Re-election is paramount, and regaining control would irritate people. The only legislatures to defy their voters’ wishes were those who joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, promising to give their electors to the popular vote winner regardless of their state’s voters. The compact won’t take effect until 270 electoral votes join.
While Donald Trump lost hundreds of post-election challenges, we saw the U.S. Supreme Court end the 36-day presidential battle 20 years ago; it would be more Constitutional if state legislatures settled these disputes.
At Tuesday’s session, Republican House speakers from Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan testified live or were shown a video deposition regarding techniques used to induce them to designate an alternate slate of electors.
The Trump brain trust’s ideas and plan of action often seemed absurd. Rudy Giuliani said, “we have lots of hypotheses but no evidence.” Purportedly John Eastman answered, “Just do it and let the courts figure it out.” Eastman argued that a vice president could decide the winner.
Biden supporters proposed asking Democrat governors in Trump-won states to send pro-Biden electors months before the 2020 election. Biden wouldn’t have done it, though. He didn’t have to choose.
After the 2016 election, a group called the Hamilton Electors, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, Hollywood personalities, Democratic members of Congress, and others called for the Electoral College to overturn Trump’s victory over Clinton.
Once the Electoral College votes in 50 state capitals, the election is done, even if a contender feels it was stolen. The Electoral Count Act—passed to avert another 1876 standoff—allows Congress to dispute state certification.
Given the committee’s one-sided character, take members’ allusions to breath-taking insights with a grain of salt unless they give context. They’ve sometimes given context. Waiting in others.
Also, evil is rated. Accountability is needed. Comparing a violent, disloyal Capitol riot to a full-scale uprising is as ridiculous as saying a vice president can unilaterally determine an election. Even if it’s not true, saying democracy is on a thread is great for Twitter and primetime ratings.