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George on Georgia – The QAnon Election Endgame

campaign coverage Editor's Pick George on Georgia

George on Georgia – The QAnon Election Endgame

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George Chidi


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People on the left are howling about how a recount of all the ballots in Georgia’s presidential race is somehow unfair or absurd or political posturing. I’d like to present a somewhat different interpretation.

It’s how we don’t end up with a shooting war in the streets.

Here’s an alternative case, which I am now told was under discussion. The Electoral Count Act – which has been described as “unintelligible” for more than a century – would normally require Congress to accept electors determined by laws preceding Election Day. But the law has never faced a serious challenge in court. Georgia’s governor and both chambers of the General Assembly are controlled by Republicans, as is that of Arizona. The U.S. Constitution does not require a state to submit its choice for president to an election; it merely requires that it be done “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”

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Mark Levin, a talk show host who sounds like a fascist Nathan Lane on a good day, began calling on Republican-controlled legislatures to overturn the election results and directly appoint a slate of Trump electors a whole day after the election. This call was loud enough for an actual discussion to occur with state officials, I am told by people who were made aware of these conversations.

There are many, many reasons why this is stupid.

Laurence Lessig, a professor of constitutional law and democracy activist who has been a distant friend of mine for 20 years, says that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on faithless electors makes a hash of this idiotic idea.

Knocking out one state isn’t enough to get Trump into an election by states in Congress.  The best plays for this are Georgia and Arizona — both of which have Republican legislatures and Republican governors — but Biden would still have 279 electors. You would somehow need to get the Republican-controlled Senate to reject the electors from at least one other state, and get the Supreme Court to go along with that, given the text of the Electoral Count Act.

It would also almost certainly guarantee crippling protests across the state and perhaps the country as people rose up against the theft of democracy. Voting is what we do so that we don’t shoot each other.

But the practical sticking point in conversations appeared to rest on how much illegitimacy the move might have when compared to the official vote count. In any given election, some percentage of voters will screw up. Usually, there’s no malice. With 1.3 million absentee ballots, a few thousand voters might have decided to show up to the poll on Election Day and vote without having the absentee properly canceled. That’s as likely to be a mistake by a poll worker as the voter, or a problem with the database entry.

A few hundred voters might be felons who should not have been able to register. And a few dozen voters might actually be dead, though not in the Chicago voter sense of the word: some small number of absentee voters may have died before Election Day. The death rate in the U.S. is about 868 per 100,000 in a year: for 1.3 million voters, one would expect about 30 to die every day. Their votes don’t count.

If Biden’s vote lead were smaller than these numbers, the Trump campaign might have been ready to push for the election to be annulled. But … they’re not.

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A recount of all the presidential votes is meant to be a compromise with this position. It’s a bone thrown by one Republican officeholder to another, to quash factional arguments between the Kemp-Isakson-Sane wing of Republicans in Georgia and the Collins-Greene-QAnon nitwits.

So much of this nonsense is meant to be a carnival for people who demand political spectacle. If Trump isn’t at the top of the ticket, there’s a reason to believe his hard-core supporters will blow off a runoff election with two political insider corporate multimillionaires at the top of the ticket. But if they can argue that re-electing Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue somehow keeps alive the potential for a Donald Trump victory, they’ll push the line, democracy and their own Republican secretary of state be damned. Otherwise, Trump’s fundraising pipeline dries up.

If Warnock and Ossoff win in January, this is one of the reasons why: the only thing their campaigns are focused on is winning this election. Loeffler and Perdue are still trying to carry Trump across the line, too.

– George Chidi is a political columnist and public policy advocate.

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