A Trumpist member of the Arizona House of Representatives has introduced a bill that among other things, allows the state legislature to essentially eliminate the Electoral College by rejecting the vote of the people and sending a slate of handpicked delegates to cast their electoral votes in Washington — a goal of both Republicans and Democrats.
Under the banner of “election reform,” Rep. John Fillmore wants the state legislature to hold a special session after an election to review election processes and results and to “accept or reject the election results.” In other words, Trumpists who believe that the 2020 election was stolen want to make it possible to steal elections. (via TheHill.com):
The proposal comes after President Biden became the first Democrat since former President Clinton to win Arizona’s electoral votes. He defeated former President Trump there by just under 11,000 votes, or about three-tenths of a percentage point.
Ever since, Arizona Republicans have been riven between election denialists who have pushed to investigate or overturn those results and more mainstream legislators — and Gov. Doug Ducey (R) — who have tried to move on. An audit, conducted by an inexperienced firm called Cyber Ninjas, failed to uncover evidence of fraud or miscounting.
Fillmore’s legislation is unlikely to gain much traction, but it is a sign that some Republicans have embraced the idea that legislators should have veto power over the will of the voters if they do not like the results.
Arizona is one of seven states where Trump supporters created a series of fake documents purported to be from a slate of electors who voted for Trump in the 2020 elections. (emphasis mine)
Trump and the Republican Party participated in the Electoral College debate in 2020, using the issue as a reason to support them instead of Democrats, despite Trump pushing to see it repealed in 2018 because the popular vote would be “easier to win.”
This wasn’t a new position for Trump. In 2012, he criticized the Electoral College in a tweet, calling it a “disaster for democracy.”
Meanwhile, at the same time that Republicans were pretending to defend the Electoral College, Democrats were calling for it to be abolished.
Sen. Bryan Schatz (D-HI) went so far as to introduce a constitutional amendment in April 2019 to abolish the Electoral College and “restore democracy” in America by allowing the president and vice president to be elected via the popular vote, an idea adopted by Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand as part of their 2020 campaigns for president.
Putting aside the crazy Trumpists in the Arizona Republican Party for a moment, a movement to essentially abolish the Electoral College has been brewing for several years in states controlled by Democrats.
An agreement to manipulate the Electoral College system instead of openly abolish it has been made by a group of US states and the District of Columbia. Known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, participating states will give their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, regardless of who won each state.
NPVIC goes live once enough states have joined to reach 270 electoral votes.
Momentum is building for the NPVIC. In March 2019, there were only 12 states and DC representing 181 EC votes, but those numbers quickly increased to 14 states representing 189 EC votes one month later.
Currently, 15 states and DC representing 195 electoral votes have joined, leaving the project just 75 electoral votes short of 270 required to win the presidency.
While the actions of Republicans and Democrats to essentially eliminate the Electoral College are a clear assault on the vote of the people, there are no Constitutional provisions or federal laws requiring Electors to vote for the winner in their states — a fact confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling in favor of appeals filed by the states of Washington (Chiafalo v. State of Washington) and Colorado (Colorado Department of State v. Baca) regarding laws requiring electors to vote according to the will of those states.
Specifically, the appeals addressed so-called “faithless electors” — people who refused to cast their votes for the popular vote winner in their states. Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Elena Kagan said:
“The Constitution’s text and the nation’s history both support allowing a state to enforce an elector’s pledge support his party’s nominee — and the state voters’ choice — for president.
“The Constitution is barebones about electors. Article II includes only the instruction to each State to appoint, in whatever way it likes, as many electors as it has Senators and Representatives.” (emphasis mine)
Sounds reasonable, until you consider what motivated the appeal in the first place. Washington and Colorado didn’t care about the will of the voters in their states, they only cared about finding a way around the Electoral College that would allow them to support the “party’s nominee” without amending the Constitution . . . regardless of how the voters voted.
Following the high court’s ruling, and with the 2020 election slipping through his fingers, Donald Trump latched on to the idea of ignoring the vote of the people and began making “contingency plans” to ignore the Electoral College and his likely defeat.
Under the banner of unsubstantiated “voter fraud,” Trump’s plan called for state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. According to a Trump campaign legal adviser in an interview with The Atlantic, “the state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power. We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s exactly the rationale used by Trumpists in Arizona last week.
Amending the Constitution to eliminate the Electoral College seems very unlikely, but that doesn’t matter because Republicans and Democrats are working on individual strategies to get the same result without an amendment.
And if we don’t stop them, representative government and the will of people will wind up in the ash heap of history as America turns into an oligarchy owned and operated by Republicans and Democrats.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.