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Are You Ready for Some Political Football? - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Are You Ready for Some Political Football?
It's getting exciting out there. Come tomorrow, it will be just three weeks until Election Day for our presidency.

What, you thought that was three weeks ago? Pish. That was essentially just a non-binding preference poll. The only voting that matters occurs in state capitals and the District of Columbia on December 19th. The Constitution is quite clear about that:

The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed....

Since the wee smalls of November 9th, everybody has assumed that will go just as the Election Night returns told us it would: that the Orange Numpty, having pulled off the incredible upset of narrowly defeating his opponent in all four crucial "firewall" states (Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and probably Michigan), would get all the electors from those states assigned to him- and that they would vote in lockstep (goosestep might be more appropriate) to complete his unexpected coronation.  He's certainly acted accordingly ever since- naming truly horrible Cabinet members, putting a white supremacist near the top of his White Trump House staff, and continuing his stream of 3 a.m. tweets about everything from Fidel Castro's death to reviewing a Hamilton performance.

Now we're closing in on the midpoint- three weeks since the popular voting (which Hillary continues to lead in by historically large and growing numbers) and three until the real one- and something is starting to happen that's only slightly more improbable that this loon getting access to the nuclear codes in the first place:

People are actually talking about December 19th's outcome being different.


There are two ways this could happen. Neither is even remotely likely to happen, but, as anyone on the right will gleefully tell you, this is the year that broke all the rules already.

In the first scenario, the electors go to their state capitols on December 19th with Hillary Rodham Clinton commanding more than 270 of them as a matter of pledging.  That's not what anyone assumed. But, as we all know,....

The focus right now is on three of those four battlegrounds: Michigan, which has not yet been certified but has been leaning red in the preliminary counts since the Morning After; and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which were certified to Herr Pussygrabber but were each extremely close. The commonly-cited totals as of today show Herr P with 290 of the votes that count, counting the 30 from WI and PA, and Hillary with 232; Michigan's 16 have yet to be assigned:

Clicking on that map on the CNN site, you'll see the unofficial totals in PA putting Clinton less than 70,000 votes behind out of close to 5.8 million cast; WI, she's within 28,000 of He, Trump's total out of close to 2.8 million.

This is not horseshoes, or a "neighborhood play" at second base.  "Close enough" shouldn't determine the fate of the nation with such extremes at stake.  All three states have recount procedures, and while Hillary didn't directly jump in to take advantage of them, her Green Party opponent suddenly realized, um, gee, maybe Clinton's NOT "just as bad" like I've been telling my voters all year, and began both the filing and the funding steps necessary to conduct vote audits in all three states.

On their face, these numbers are close enough to justify the effort. But then the past week began to bring in reports of outright evidence of possible Russian hacking of the Election Night results. Emphasis, I emphasize, is on "possible," but as a leading researcher of such efforts stated after media reports started circulating with quotes from him,

The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.

So, just in time, the Green effort got under way to do just that, and after word started getting out about it, the Clinton campaign kept mostly mum, but by yesterday was sending out signals that it would join in the effort.

His Majesty was not pleased:

“This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount,” Trump said in a statement released by his transition team. "This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing."

The Numpty doth protest too much, methinks. His minions have already been far less measured in pointing this effort directly at the only candidate who could benefit from it, renewing the "Lock Her Up!" calls and other invective because somebody dared demand a count of actual votes.

So it's on- and before December 19th, we will know how many electors will be voting and to whom they will be pledged.

Yet even that might not be the end of the story in this craziest of years.


Let's hypothesize: Michigan's 16 votes go for Hillary once they're all counted (she's down about 11,000 at last count). Then let's move the smaller of the other two: Wisconsin's ten. That would put her at 258 versus You Know Who being down to 280. So she still loses, right?


Quietly, some say subversively, Democrats have been contacting red-pledged electors and have been trying to get them to change their votes on Real Election Day.  Nothing in the Constitution requires electors to vote for the candidates to whom they are pledged, and according to this long-shot-but-why-not analysis, there have been votes cast by so-called "faithless electors" in more than half of the past seventeen elections. None came close to influencing an outcome, were considered little more than protests, but did result in several states passing legislation to require electors to vote for the pledged candidate- with Minnesota, the last to experience such faithlessness, going as far as to declare an elector's vote for anyone else to be void and a replacement elector to be appointed. It, and of all things Michigan, are the only ones with statutes, never enforced, to void the vote of the faithless one.

So it's possible. And it has been contemplated on at least three occasions in my lifetime- attempts to end-run the electors' choosing the duly-elected Democrat:

In 1960, an extensive effort was undertaken within the Electoral College to persuade fellow members to change their votes. Many Southern Democrat electors were looking for an alternative to John F. Kennedy and could not stomach Richard Nixon.

They hatched a plan to deny an Electoral College majority to either candidate and hoped to throw the election to Virginia Senator Harry Byrd. Although some party officials were interested in the idea, they ultimately thought it would be too damaging to the party to follow through with it. Still, one elector, Henry Irwin, a Republican from Oklahoma, cast his vote for Byrd.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter won a razor-thin victory over Gerald Ford. A change in just over 5,000 votes in Ohio and 3,000 votes in Hawaii would have given the election to Ford with 270 electoral votes. Testifying to a Senate committee in the aftermath of the election, GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Bob Dole indicated the Ford-Dole campaign was actively seeking to influence Democrat electors to switch to their ticket. "We were shopping -- not shopping, excuse me -- looking around for electors," Dole said. "It just seems to me that the temptation is there for that elector in a very tight race to really negotiate quite a bunch."

The third time, it never happened, but there were plans for it, when Dubya's strategists predicted the completely wrong outcome:

In 2000, expecting a popular vote win and an Electoral College loss, the Bush-Cheney team drafted plans to demand a public outcry if such an occasion were to occur. "Democrats for Democracy" was one slogan that was suggested if such a campaign were to emerge. Such an insurrection was wholly aimed at persuading Democrat electors to change their votes if Bush had won the popular vote and lost the Electoral College vote.

Of course, the opposite happened. And in the aftermath, an intense lobbying campaign unfolded to persuade Republican electors to vote for the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, over George W. Bush. In my surveys of the 2000 electors, I found that many received great pressure to change their votes and some even reported receiving death threats.

Can you imagine if we woke up three weeks from Tuesday to find that Hillary Clinton was President, after all?  As far-fetched as it is, I can only conclude that it would be (a) completely legal, (b) not without precedent, but (c) would cause a right-wing shitstorm the likes of which would make the worst of the past month's "Not My President" protests seem like an ice cream social.

For one thing, I fully expect that Congress would refuse to certify the outcome- leading to either an attempt to invoke the rest of the 12th Amendment to let the House decide the result, or an outright breakdown of constitutional governance for the first time in our history.

I also expect that the electors- all of them, since the faithless ones may not be known outside states requiring their votes to be public- will be the subject of death threats and quite possibly attempts.  If you thought millennials and whiny-baby liberals were upset about the preliminary results?  That will be nothing in comparison.

Finally, it may lead to the most interesting first two weeks of 2017 we've ever seen. Because there's this weird but wonderful stagger in the start of the federal terms determined at the 2016 elections. All 435 House members, and all the new or re-elected Senators (now 51 R to 48 D/I, with one likely R seat to be added in a Louisiana runoff next month), take their seats on January 3rd- but Barack Obama and Joe Biden remain in office until the 20th.  Biden, for those weeks, could become the more relevant of the two as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. It would take just two defecting Republicans to vote with the Democratic bloc on anything- from new legislation affecting the presidential outcome if still then in doubt, to the still-pending SCOTUS appointment, to the rules of the Senate itself.

The old Asian curse comes to mind: "May you live in interesting times."
2 comments or Leave a comment
tilia_tomentosa From: tilia_tomentosa Date: November 27th, 2016 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
If i wasn't scared myself, I would say that there wasn't enough popcorn on the planet for that show. :)
weebleswobble From: weebleswobble Date: November 29th, 2016 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
i think you just broke my brain with all this. i had no idea about any of that. of course, now i'm all hoping and wishing...
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