Having failed to persuade electors to reject President-Elect Donald Trump, progressive activists are mounting a last-ditch effort to stop him in Congress.
Friday, Congress will formally count the electoral votes cast last month. Several Democratic members of Congress have mulled filing challenges to that vote. If at least one representative and one senator challenge the results, Congress will consider the objections and then vote to resolve them. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told CNN Friday that he expects some members to make challenges.
“I hope they don’t keep my vote out. I was very proud of that vote.”
The odds of the Republican-controlled Congress entertaining challenges are virtually zero, however. And even if Congress did throw out enough votes to deny Trump a majority of the Electoral College, it would fall to the House to pick the president from among the three people who received the most electoral votes — Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who wasn’t even a candidate.
The House surely would pick Trump.
Even leaders of the effort concede it almost certainly will not go beyond the first step.
“That is the most likely scenario,” said Ryan Clayton, of the progressive organization Americans Take Action.
Would Republican members of the House really vote for Powell, who is 79 and twice endorsed President Obama and backed Clinton in 2016?
“Hopefully, there’s a better chance of that than handing over the presidency to a narcissistic psychopath with [access to] 7,000 nuclear weapons,” Clayton said.
Clayton identified three grounds for a challenge — Russian interference; “voter suppression,” which he insisted could have changed the results in several states; and ineligible electors.
A group of lawyers, researching the laws of all 50 states, have identified up to 50 Republican electors who they allege should be disqualified. The group alleges that 16 electors improperly cast ballots on behalf of congressional districts where they do not live, while another 34 were not eligible to participate in the Electoral College because they hold other offices.
Clayton said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, for instance, should not have been able to be an elector.
“Pam Bondi, as attorney general, has done cases about the dual-office issue,” he said.
Another disputed elector is Frank Burt, from Alabama. The group cites the state’s constitution, which declares that “no person holding an office of profit under the United States” shall hold any state office. State law provides for an $8 payment for each day an elector has to attend a session in the state capital, plus 20 cents per mile for travel.
But Burt, who serves as a county commissioner in Baldwin County, told LifeZette that he accepted no money for his service as an elector.
“That ought to let me off the hook,” he said.
Burt noted that the Alabama secretary of state signed off on the state’s electoral vote. He said Congress should reject any challenge.
“I hope they don’t keep my vote out,” he said. “I was very proud of that vote.”