There are two scenarios going around that could overturn Trump’s electoral college victory, though I consider both longer than the longest long shot.
1. Thirty-seven electors don’t vote for the candidate who won their state. This is extremely unlikely.
Since the founding of the Electoral College, there have been 157 faithless electors. 71 of these votes were changed because the original candidate died before the day on which the Electoral College cast its votes. Three of the votes were not cast at all as three electors chose to abstain from casting their electoral vote for any candidate. The other 82 electoral votes were changed on the personal initiative of the elector.
It’s been pointed out that if you could convince all the electors in a single state, Texas, to change their vote, the election would either go to Hillary Clinton (if they all switched to Clinton) or would go to the House of Representatives.
Well and good. But stop and think a moment. Do you think it’s likely that 38 Texan electors who were chosen because of their loyalty to Donald Trump or the Republican Party are going to move en masse to vote against him? Really?
Even of the Russian interference issue could be leveraged to change their minds, do you really think there are 37 Republican-chosen electors nationwide who can be convinced to change their loyalty?
I don’t. But that doesn’t matter. We’ll see.
2. The courts could overturn the election because of foreign interference. Not impossible, because there is a precedent.
However, such a ruling could only be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently split evenly because of the Scalia vacancy. And a 4-4 vote would be no ruling.
Is it possible Roberts could break ranks as he did on Obamacare rulings? Yes, that’s possible, but I don’t think it’s likely. Roberts broke ranks with the conservatives because he was worried about the legacy of his court. To do so would be counter to his general character. A Supreme Court decision overturning a completed presidential election would be much too radical for him.
But could someone else break ranks? Thomas — no. Alito — no. Kennedy…. maybe but probably no.
I don’t think the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the election. But that doesn’t matter. We’ll see.
But if it happens
If either faithless electors or the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Donald Trump’s election, are you ready for what happens next?
First, Hillary Clinton or whoever the new president-elect is (assuming that the House makes the call and simply picks another Republican — likely Mike Pence) has to scramble to get their transition in place in time. The executive branch descends into chaos.
Second, violence breaks out all over the United States, most intensely in red states, as Trump supporters reject the legitimacy of the overturning. Remember, an awful lot of Trump’s supporters are devotees of the Second Amendment and believe “second-amendment solutions” are a legitimate response to anything they don’t like.
To say what I’m saying in the clearest terms if this election is overturned, I believe a civil war is likely.
So, how badly do you want to avoid a Trump presidency? I’m seeing this more and more as a lose-lose situation. I don’t want a Trump presidency just as vehemently as anyone else. But I also don’t want to see this country plunged into years of violence and bloodshed either.
There are times when you have to fight to hold on to the things you hold dear. And our democracy is one of the things I hold dear.
I’m just not sure that either path, enduring the Trump presidency and preserving the institutions that we can take back in the next election, or overturning the Trump presidency and enduring the violence wrath of his supporters leads to saving our republic.
DISCLAIMER: This is about a pessimistic as I get. Maybe I’m completely off my rails.
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