Monday, November 28, 2016

Recount rumors

There's a conspiracy theory floating around, most prominently on American Thinker and promoted by Drudge Report, that the real strategy behind the recount called for by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton is to throw the election to the House of Representatives. Let me tell you up front that either the conspiracy theory is flawed, or the plan the theory exposes is flawed. Here's why.

Now, for those that may not be familiar enough with the actual electoral process for selecting the president, here's how it works.

The states choose electors to elect a president. You don't elect a president, and never have elected a president. It has never been intended for you to elect a president. If you thought otherwise, you thought wrong. But now you know.

The electors meet at their respective state capitals and actually vote for president and vice president in December. Congress sets the date for this, and this year, it's December 19.
The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.
The votes are then counted in Congress in January and the actual election of the president and vice president is announced. If no one gets a majority, the House of Representatives choose a president from the top three recipients, or two if there is a tie at 50%. The states caucus and vote as a single entity. Each state gets one vote. A majority of states is required to elect a president.

The Senate would then select a vice president from the top two vote recipients. Each Senator gets a vote. A majority is needed to choose a vice president.

Now, back to the theory. It says that the intent is to tie up the vote in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Those three states voted for Trump, and account for 46 electoral votes. And, according to American Thinker, the master plan is to get those electoral votes to not be counted.
The recounts, if done by hand, which can be demanded, may take longer than the last day for completing the official counts in a state and directing Electoral College voters. If all 3 states miss the deadline, Trump is at 260, Hillary at 232. No one hits 270.
That much is true. If -- and it's a big if -- those states aren't able to choose electors by the deadline, they don't get to vote for president. And, if that happens -- again, a big if -- Trump would indeed have only 260 votes.

The whole thing hinges on the denying of 270 votes, with the thinking that the House of Representatives would then elect the president. And, since the GOP controls the House, the intent is to make Trump seem like an illegitimate president, not receiving a majority of the popular vote nor a majority of the electoral vote.

But that's the flaw. If the three states don't select electors, and the final vote is Trump 260, Clinton 232, the fact is Trump still wins the electoral vote.

The thinking at American Thinker is that denying 270 votes throws the election to the House. But, in the scenario laid out, it would not. You see, an actual reading of the Constitution, particularly the 12th Amendment, says that's not so.
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
And that's the key: "a majority of the whole number of electors appointed." If Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania don't appoint electors, they don't figure into the mix. That means instead of 538 electoral votes cast, there would be only 492 votes cast. In that case, 247 votes are needed to elect a president.

Hillary would still only have 232 votes, while Trump's lowered total of 260 is still a majority.

So, if the plan is to deny Trump 270 by getting electoral votes not counted, it's a badly flawed one. Regardless, the American Thinker isn't thinking very clearly.

UPDATE:

The American Thinker has updated the post (scroll to the bottom) with information along the line of what was laid out here on this little blog:
If a state never gets to name electors, the number needed to win goes down; a majority of those named is enough. Even with 260-232, Trump should win unless there wee lots of faithless electors....
If someone has a majority of electoral votes submitted, the Senate and House open the tally and merely name the winner. Clearly this process is now subject to recount mischief in the future, now that Jill Stein and Clinton campaign have in essence argued any close state that Trump won should be challenged.
I'm glad to see The American Thinker is once again thinking clearly.

1 comment:

  1. Some states allow legislatures to appoint electors in the event the SecState has not certified the election results. Florida was prepared to do this in 2000. No idea what the laws are in WI, PA, or MI.

    ReplyDelete

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