This GOP defense for Trump’s alternate electors was debunked 60 years ago

This GOP defense for Trump’s alternate electors was debunked 60 years ago
Rudy Giuliani/Shutterstock

The only legal precedent for Donald Trump's alternate electors does not provide the vindication Republicans would like, according to a new report in Politico.

"When Donald Trump’s allies signed false documents claiming he won several states he lost — and that they were his legitimate presidential electors — they came armed with an excuse: Democrats did it first, 60 years earlier in Hawaii," Politico reported Monday.

In Hawaii's first presidential campaign, Democratic John F. Kennedy faced Republican Richard Nixon, who oversaw the ceremonial counting of the votes as sitting vice president.

"By December 1960, it was clear Kennedy had won. Only Hawaii’s result remained in doubt. Nixon had prevailed by just 140 votes, according to the initial results, which were certified by the governor. A recount was underway on Dec. 19, 1960, when presidential electors across the nation were required by law to meet and cast their ballots," Politico reported. "Nixon’s Hawaii electors met and cast their three votes in an official ceremony. But nearby, Kennedy’s three elector nominees gathered and signed their own certificates, delivering them to Washington as though Kennedy had won the state."

Politico obtained a copy of the document from the National Archives and reports it is "remarkably similar to the false Trump-elector certificates" that were filed in Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.

"Although the three Democratic electors in Hawaii took the same action — signing false certificates — it does not appear they ever faced similar scrutiny, in part because of what happened next. Namely, that Hawaii’s recount ultimately did reverse the state’s election outcome," Politico reported. "When Nixon, like Mike Pence, presided over the Electoral College counting session on Jan. 6, 1961, he acknowledged receiving all three sets of certificates: the GOP slate, the uncertified Democratic slate and the certified Democratic slate. He then agreed that the newest one — the Democrats certified by Gov. William Quinn — should be counted, even though they were certified weeks after the required meeting of the Electoral College. Nixon added a caveat of his own: His decision should not be seen as a precedent for the future."

In the only legal precedent, Judge Ronald Jamieson ruled Democrats were correct and threw out a GOP effort to throw out the entire election.

"But, more significantly, Jamieson said it was important that those electors met and gathered on Dec. 19, 1960, as prescribed by the Electoral Count Act," Politico reported. "Rather than suggest the Democratic electors committed fraud, the judge pointed to their meeting as a key step that preserved their ability to be counted after the recount showed Kennedy had actually won the state. Jamieson also reportedly threw out an effort by the GOP electors to scrap the entire election because of fraud allegations."

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