How Donald Trump could win the presidency — and have Kamala Harris as his VP (opinion)

Against this backdrop, President Donald Trump has intensified his rhetoric undermining the electoral course of, stating that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if this election is rigged.” Add a dose of intense political polarization and a doubtlessly shut election and we have a recipe for one more catastrophe earlier than the finish of the 12 months.
Trump’s 2016 victory reminded many Americans that the Electoral College course of, not the general widespread vote, determines who wins or loses a presidential election. Although Clinton garnered nearly three million more votes than Trump, he was in a position to declare slim margins of victory in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which was sufficient to acquire an Electoral College majority.
If fewer than 40,000 voters in these states (simply 0.29% of all votes forged amongst these states) had modified their minds, Hillary Clinton would have received the presidency. Given that as many as 13% made their minds up the day of the election or deliberate to vote for a third-party candidate, such a state of affairs shouldn’t be farfetched.
This underscores simply how shut the election was. In actuality, most presidential elections are close. In reality, half of all elections have come right down to a change in 75,000 votes or much less scattered throughout the nation; 40% of elections have come right down to a change in 30,000 votes or much less; and one-in-five elections have come right down to a change in simply 10,000 votes or much less. Consider that in any election, around 4% of voters make their thoughts up the day of the election and one can see what number of presidential outcomes could have turned out fairly otherwise.

Close elections are the rule, not the exception.

As weird as this election cycle has been, we should always think about a state of affairs that, whereas unlikely, is one we must be ready to come across, particularly in the present surroundings of mistrust and polarization: an electoral vote tie. The solely tie in the Electoral College occurred in 1800, after which the 12th Amendment was added to the Constitution.

The tie arose from the unexpected institution of occasion tickets. Originally, electors forged two votes and didn’t distinguish between a presidential and a vice presidential candidate. In 1800, electors supporting Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr forged one poll for every of them, leading to a tie. Consequently, the winner was determined by the House of Representatives in our first contingent election. The 12th Amendment was adopted previous to the 1804 election and it required electors to forged one vote for president and one vote for vp.

Close observers of presidential elections acknowledge that there have been many circumstances the place a tie was narrowly averted. Based on election information, we estimate that the US has been inside a hairbreadth of an Electoral College tie in over 20% of the last 18 presidential elections.

It doesn’t take a lot creativeness to ascertain a map the place a tie could occur this November, and given the present state of affairs, the nation is ill-prepared for such an prevalence. A fast look at the electoral map exhibits that if the whole lot stays the identical as 2016 with the exception of Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona going blue, the consequence can be a 269-269 tie.

Alternatively, if the events had been to say the very same states as 4 years in the past, however Biden wins the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and the one electoral vote of Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, the 2020 election would additionally finish in a impasse. It would even be the first election settled by the US Congress since the election of 1876. Although it is a distant chance, it’s helpful — and fairly unsettling — to look at what would probably occur subsequent.

When Americans vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidate of their alternative, both by mail or in-person, this November, they may truly be casting a vote for a slate of electors, equal to the variety of a state’s electoral votes, who will forged a vote on their behalf of their respective state capitals on December 14.

This course of hinges on presidential electors remaining trustworthy to their pledged candidates. The Supreme Court sought to keep away from chaos brought on by so-called “faithless electors” (electors who don’t forged their electoral vote for the candidate to whom they’re pledged) of their ruling earlier this summer season in Chiafalo v. Washington. The Court discovered that states that had “binding laws” that both punished or eliminated electors who didn’t vote as anticipated had been certainly constitutional. For many, this was heralded as the finish of faithless electors.
However, whereas 33 states and the District of Columbia require pledges of electors, solely 14 states have penalties which truly lead to the elimination of a faithless elector. These 14 states account for simply 121 electoral votes, which means that there isn’t a authorized means to bind the remaining 417 electoral votes. Research on electors finds {that a} surprisingly large number usually think about casting rogue votes and an Electoral College tie could create nice incentives for them to take action. Although few go rogue, a record number forged faithless votes in 2016, together with 5 Democratic and two Republican electors.

In the occasion of an Electoral College tie between Biden and Trump, a faithless elector could resolve to vote for the different candidate, thus giving that candidate 270 electoral votes and doubtlessly ending the election in a wave of controversy. However, on January 6 in a joint session of Congress, all electoral votes acquired from the states are learn aloud and tabulated. At that time, it’s probably that the faithless vote can be challenged and debated amongst members of Congress.

Notably, all earlier faithless votes have been counted by Congress in the method they had been acquired. The Court’s ruling in Chiafalo could present help to nullify a rogue vote if one had been forged, however that final result is unsure.

Today's Electoral College is nothing like the Founders' vision

Supposing all electors vote as anticipated and no candidate receives a majority of Electoral College votes, the election would transfer to the contingency course of, which has been utilized thrice in American historical past, all in the 19th century.

In a contingent election, the House of Representatives is charged with figuring out the winner of the presidency whereas the Senate selects the vp. Potentially including additional intrigue, there may be additionally nothing in the Constitution requiring members of the House or Senate to carry their deliberations or forged their votes in public. During the 1825 contingent election, votes had been forged in secret.
In the House, members should select amongst the high three candidates who received electoral votes for the presidency. Each state delegation will get one vote, no matter the measurement of their delegation. This course of emphasizes the energy of statehood and small states have as a lot say concerning the subsequent president as the most populated ones. Thus, Wyoming (inhabitants, 580,000) and California (inhabitants, 40 million) have equal clout on this course of.
Currently, 26 state U.S. House delegations are majority Republican, 23 states are majority Democrat, and 1 state has divided occasion management. We will not know till after Election Day, and maybe significantly lengthy after, what number of state House delegations are managed by which events in the incoming 117th Congress. If delegation management had been to stay unchanged, it could be that Joe Biden could win the widespread vote by hundreds of thousands and have the House managed by his personal occasion solely to lose the presidency as a result of Republicans managed extra House delegations.
While this all could appear far-fetched, Donald Trump has floated the idea that he could win the presidency in a contingent election. In response, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged her fellow Democratic members of the House to redouble their efforts to make sure Democrats win a majority of House delegations. Clearly, situations of this type are on the minds of our nation’s leaders.
The alternative of the vp falls to the Senate and every senator would have a single vote. Senators would choose amongst the high two candidates who received electoral votes for the vice presidency. While Republicans might maintain on to their majority in the Senate, it’s fairly doable that Democrats could have a slim majority in the 117th Congress. Thus, in a contingency state of affairs, it’s completely doable that Donald Trump could win reelection and Kamala Harris can be his vp.
And if that’s not weird sufficient, if the House is unable to agree on a winner by January 20, 2021, at midday, the vp would become acting president offered the Senate could agree on a vp. If neither physique can resolve on a winner by the January 20 deadline, the Presidential Succession Act would kick in and Pelosi, as soon as she resigned her seat in Congress, would act as president till the election had been lastly resolved.

Though this final result might seem unbelievable, if 2020 has taught us something, it’s to count on the surprising and put together for any and all situations. Should an electoral vote tie happen, we imagine that America, and the world, is not going to be ready for the bedlam which might ensue.

An earlier model of this story gave the flawed proportion of votes in MI, WI and PA that may have wanted to alter to change the final result of the 2016 election. It was 0.29%.

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