Here’s how 'rogue' GOP governors could steal the 2024 election for Trump — and cause a 'constitutional tailspin'
Former prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and journalist Carl Bernstein are among the Watergate-era figures who have commented that President Richard Nixon’s corruption during the 1970s pales in comparison to the actions of former President Donald Trump. Indeed, Nixon never lost a presidential election only to falsely claim that he didn’t and do everything imaginable to overturn the election results. The aftermath of the 2020 election raises very real concerns that in the future, rogue Republicans will simply refuse to honor presidential election results that they don’t like — and an article by Business Insider’s Grace Panetta addresses the possibility of a rogue GOP governor trying to overturn the Electoral College outcome in 2024 should Trump run for president again and lose that state to a Democrat.
After the 2020 election, two GOP governors in states that Joe Biden won — Georgia’s Brian Kemp and Arizona’s Doug Ducey — infuriated Trump when they certified the presidential election results in their states and maintained that there was no reason to believe that Biden didn’t win them fairly. Panetta’s article examines the possibility of a future MAGA governor going rogue and refusing to do the right thing, unlike Kemp and Ducey in 2020.
“A bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to reform a 135-year-old law to save future elections from being stolen by their own colleagues,” Panetta explains in her article, which Business Insider published on January 31. “But if their well-intentioned attempts prove successful, they may inadvertently create a pathway for a less discussed but more urgent threat: a rogue governor in a swing state like Georgia single-handedly undermining the democratic process.”
The 135-year-old law that Panetta is referring to is the Electoral Count Act of 1887. Congress passed the ECA, Panetta notes, “following the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of Black voters.”
“As former President Donald Trump continues to relentlessly push his false claims of a fraudulent presidential election and openly says it should have been ‘overturned,’ some members of Congress want to revise the 19th Century law,” Panetta observes. “The proposed reforms to the ECA are designed to prevent the executive branch and Congress from undermining elections — as Trump and dozens of Republican members of Congress tried to do by raising objections to results at the state level in Arizona and Pennsylvania — and pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the ratification of then-candidate Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, leading to the January 6 insurrection.”
Panetta continues, “However, the suggested changes to the law would do little to constrain the power of state and local governments. By overseeing vote counting and certifying election results before they are sent to Congress for ratification, these levels of government arguably have as much power, if not more, than Congress and a sitting president to steal an election.”
After the 2020 election, Trump was unable to stop the ratifications of Biden’s victory at the state level. And he saw the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 as his last chance to stay in the White House.
“Scholars say the ECA was designed to encourage Congress to defer to state outcomes and allow for objections to electoral slates in only certain very narrow circumstances, like a state's governor failing to certify the results on time or electors being bribed,” Panetta notes. “In recent years, however, those provisions have been intentionally misused by members of Congress — a small number of Democrats in 2005 and 2017, and far more Republicans in 2021 — who objected to counting single slates of electors because they disagreed with various states’ election procedures and were disappointed with the outcome of the presidential election.”
More than a year into Biden’s presidency, the possibility of GOP election mischief at the state level is a very real concern.
“Election denial movements have staked their flag in Republican-controlled state legislatures, which have passed dozens of new laws restricting voting and elections, politicized election administration, and pursued costly partisan post-election ballot reviews in places like Arizona and Wisconsin,” Panetta warns. “Dozens of candidates who have embraced Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen are vying to become their states' chief election officials and governors. If candidates like Kari Lake in Arizona and David Perdue in Georgia are successful, it would give them final say over whether to certify a slate of electors for a presidential candidate.”
Panetta adds, “Such trends raise the risk of a disputed or possibly stolen election in the 2022 midterms. It also makes the current push to reform the ECA not just about preventing a replay of January 6, but averting a worse crisis that could send the country into a constitutional tailspin.”
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