Former WA Attorney General: ‘Irresponsible’ to try forcing electoral college to defy state voters
As President Trump and Republicans continue to call the results of the 2020 election into question, some in the party have called on state Legislatures to choose electors who will give their electoral college votes to Trump in battleground states Biden ultimately won. What’s the likelihood of that happening? Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna weighed in.
“I was reading an article today where one expert said, ‘Yes, it’s possible in the way that a killer asteroid is possible,'” McKenna told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “So is it possible? Yes, but it would take a series of frankly improbable events to all line up for that to happen.”
“Theoretically, it could happen, but I think it’s going to miss the Earth by a country mile,” he added.
McKenna hearkens back to the last major electoral college controversy that occurred in the 1876 presidential race between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden. In that race, “several states sent competing sets of electors to Congress,” calling a decisive 20 electoral votes into question.
A compromise was ultimately reached in 1877, where the 20 disputed votes were awarded to Hayes by southern Democrats, in exchange for withdrawing federal troops from the South, effectively ending the post-Civil War era of Reconstruction.
A decade later, the Electoral Count Act of 1887 was passed, which mandated that a state’s certified election results are binding and can’t be changed by Congress. As for what happens when a state sends competing electors, that remains a slightly more open-ended question.
“Let’s say the Legislature sends one list of electors voting for Trump and the governor and secretary of state of the same state sends a different list. What are you supposed to do?” McKenna posited. “This is where the problem actually comes up — that’s unclear.”
Even so, McKenna is skeptical that we’re on the brink of a Constitutional crisis.
“The reason we’re not going to get to that question is because the states are going to certify their results within the required time frame,” he noted. “Number two, I mean, there just isn’t enough evidence of fraud, and frankly, the margins are big enough in every state, even the states that are going through recounts.”
Given the lack of solid proof of fraud and the wide margin of victory Biden saw in key states, McKenna also hopes to see his fellow Republicans speak out against attempts to subvert 2020’s results through an end-around in the electoral college.
“I would like to see more Republican elected officials step up and really speak out against any talk of using the Electoral Count Act to upend the results of the election,” he said. “There just is no basis for doing that.”
“It’s really irresponsible for anyone to suggest that the electoral list should be picked by the Republican legislature of a given state — that’s wrong,” he continued. “I hope that more Republican leaders start stepping up and making that clear.”
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