- Anthony Zurcher
- BBC correspondent in Washington DC
Almost two weeks after Joe Biden was the projected winner of the United States election, Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede victory. Does the president have a plan to reverse the result?
The president’s legal strategy to challenge the election result appears to be falling on deaf ears in the courts. After filing dozens of lawsuits, Trump’s team has yet to score a significant victory, or present evidence of widespread fraud.
His top attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said Thursday that the campaign he was going to withdraw his Actions legal in Michigan, a state that Biden won by more than 160,000 votes.
In Georgia, the Republican secretary of state announced that he will certify the election result, which gave Biden an advantage of just over 12,000 votes after the state carried out a manual recount of nearly 5 million votes.
As the doors of his re-election remain closed, the president appears to be shifting his strategy to flip the results from an unlikely legal tactic to a political move. more risky.
A Simple Guide to Trump’s Strategy
Here’s what Trump can hope to do:
- Block the process of certifying votes in as many states as possible, through lawsuits or by encouraging Republican officials to object to the result.
- Convincing Republican-controlled legislatures in states where Biden won tightly to dismiss the popular vote results as corrupt due to widespread fraud.
- Then have the legislature award the votes of the Electoral College of that state, which are cast by so-called voters on December 14, to Trump instead of Biden.
- Do that in enough states – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, for example – for Trump to go past his 232 electoral votes to hit the winning mark of 270 votes. Or, at least, force Biden to drop from 306 electoral votes to 269, which would be a tie and would leave the fate of the election in the hands of the House of Representatives, where Trump would have the advantage.
What is Trump doing to make this happen?
The first sign that Trump was putting pressure on certain states to ignore the current vote total came after the country’s press reported that the president had called Republican officials who had initially refused to certify the election result. from Detroit, Michigan’s largest city.
For two low-level party officials, among thousands of electoral representatives from across the United States, to speak directly to a president was highly unusual. In the end, they reversed their decision to block the procedure and, after Trump’s call, expressed their regret for have backed down.
Those signs became clear evidence of intent when Republican leaders in the Michigan Legislature accepted an invitation from the president to visit the White House on Friday.
- To reach the presidency of the United States, you do not have to win a majority of the popular votes but get at least 270 of the 538 votes of the Colegio Electoral.
- The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state generally takes all the electoral votes from that territory.
- Florida, for example, it has 29 electoral votes. Texas, 38. The candidate who reaches 270 wins the election.
The news was accompanied by reports that Trump is determined to find other ways to pressure lawmakers in key states to review and perhaps reverse his election results.
What is traditionally a mere formality in normal elections – the bipartisan certification of total votes per state – has become on the last battlefield of the president’s attempts to stay in power for the next four years.
Could Trump achieve his goal?
The chances of Trump being successful are very, very slim. For starters, the president should flip the results in various states, where Biden’s lead ranges from tens of thousands of votes to more than hundreds of thousands. This year 2020 is not 2000, when it was all decided in Florida.
Plus, many of the states that Trump’s legal team is targeting – Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada – have Democratic Party governors, who are not going to sit idly by while all this goes on.
In Michigan, for example, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could fire the current state electoral council and replace it with one willing to certify Biden’s victory.
Democratic governors could respond by appointing their own pro-Biden constituents to compete with those chosen by the Republican Legislature, leaving it up to Congress to decide which group to recognize.
In any case, that is not to say that Biden’s supporters are not concerned.
Although the possibility of all this happening is at the level of the Earth being hit by a giant meteorite or someone being struck by lightning the moment they win the lottery, taking the victory from them would be such a political cataclysm at this time. that the remote possibility of it is enough to cause the chills in the Democratic ranks.
Is Trump’s strategy even legal?
Trump has spent much of his time in the White House undermining presidential norms and traditions. And it seems that his last days in office will be no different.
However, that the pressure Trump is putting on election officials and state legislatures is unprecedented or controversial, it does not mean it is illegal.
In the early days of the nation, state legislatures had broad powers over how to adjudicate their electoral votes, and today there is still no constitutional requirement for them to abide by popular vote results.
Since then the legislatures have circumscribed this competence by assigning their votes according to the results of the popular election, but the basis of the original system is still intact.
If the president succeeds in convincing a legislature, such as Michigan’s, to act (in his favor), the Democrats will surely raise legal objections. The law, both nationally and in each state, is diffuse, since this type of case has rarely been the subject of litigation.
Could states change the legislation on how they organize their elections retroactively? Maybe But the final verdict will depend on the judges.
Has anyone tried this before?
The last time a tight election involved a dispute over voters was in 2000, when Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush faced off. That was a battle in one state, Florida, where the difference between the two candidates was a few hundred votes. In the end, the Supreme Court of the United States took part and stopped any further review, and Bush became president.
For an election contested in multiple states we would have to look much further back to 1876, with the contest between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tildon.
In that case, the disputed results in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida meant that no candidate was able to get a majority in the Electoral College.
The situation of lockdown caused the elections to end in the House of Representatives, which in the end positioned itself in favor of Hayes, who, like Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016, had won fewer votes at the national level than his opponent.
What if Donald Trump isiega to leave power?
If the president’s attempts to reverse the election results fail, at 12:01 on January 20 Joe Biden will take office as the 46th President of the United Stateswhether Trump acknowledges his victory or not.
At that time, the secret service and the country’s Army have a free hand to treat the former president in the way they would any unauthorized individual on government property.
“What he’s doing is outrageous,” Biden told a news conference Thursday.
“Hugely damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy works.”
Even if the president is unsuccessful, his apparent devastating strategy contesting election results sets a precedent and, according to polls, is undermining the trust of many Americans in the country’s democratic system and institutions.
Remember that you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download our app and activate them so you don’t miss our best content.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.