Legislators in four U.S. states have cast their Electoral College votes for incumbent President Donald Trump rather than his rival Joe Biden, a rare move that reflects the depth of the controversy surrounding the results of the 2020 election.
With legal battles ongoing to determine whether the election was marred by fraud, Republican legislators in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona did not announce votes in accordance with the apparent results of their states’ presidential elections.
Dec. 14 is the date the Electoral College — compromising all 538 U.S. senators and congressmen and women — announces their choices for the next president. Traditionally, all of a state’s electoral votes are cast for the winner of the state’s popular vote, but there have been “faithless” electors.
In Michigan, another state where the elections are widely alleged to have been compromised, the legislators sent two separate slates to the Electoral College, 16 Democrats for Biden and 16 Republicans for Trump.
In Pennsylvania, the GOP argued that their “conditional votes” for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were based on the precedent set in the 1960 election between candidates Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, a Democrat. Though the race was eventually won by Kennedy, the popular vote in the state of Alabama was contested, leading to unpledged electors who voted against the future president.
There have been widespread accusations of election fraud and irregularities in the 2020 Pennsylvania election. Particularly controversial are a number of rulings made by the state’s supreme court in the weeks running up to the election. According to Republican challengers, the Keystone State’s highest court relaxed the requirements for accepting mail-in ballots in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
According to the Pennsylvania Republicans, their conditional votes for Trump were cast at the request of the president’s campaign, and are to allow time for legal challenges to run their course.
A statement by Bernie Comfort, chairman of the Pennsylvania Trump campaign, reads: “We took this procedural vote to preserve any legal claims that may be preserved going forward.”
A report by the Associated Press claiming that “Biden won, Trump lost” does not mention the role of the votes cast by the GOP electors in the disputed states.
‘History made today’
While electoral votes are cast on Dec. 14, the results are only finalized on Jan. 6, when Congress meets for a Joint Session at the Capitol. Jan. 20 is Inauguration Day.
Trump could see a path to reelection via the alternate elector slates, White House adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News. “The only date in the Constitution is Jan. 20. So we have more than enough time to right the wrong of this fraudulent election result and certify Donald Trump as the winner of the election,” Miller said on Fox & Friends.
Some Republican congressmen have announced their intention to block the counting of the electors’ votes until their credentials can be determined. If successful, this would lead to a series of debates and votes, allowing the Trump campaign more time to argue fraud.
Georgia GOP chairman David Shafer argued that the state’s presidential electors cast votes for Trump because his “lawsuit contesting the Georgia election is still pending.”
In Georgia, two recounts have narrowed Biden’s advantage from roughly 14,000 to less than 12,000, but there remain widespread claims made by sworn witnesses of invalid ballots, fake ballots, and other malign activity on and around Election Day.
“Our action today preserves his rights under Georgia law,” Shafer said of the electors’ decisions.
Republicans in Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona also cast their votes for Trump amid the ongoing disputes about the elections in their states.
Michigan Republicans explained their decision to send more than more slate of electors to the College, saying that the action was “not unheard of.”
“It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute — and clearly it is,” Meshawn Maddock, Michigan Republican at-large national elector, said in a statement emailed to various media.