The Great Civics Lesson: Trump’s Last Best Chance to Steal the Election — UPDATED

updated, Sunday 6 December: Thanks to a Twitter reader, Burn, for pointing out resources and the likely outcome of unresolved objections to the Electoral College vote count by a joint session of Congress on 6 January. I’ll add the corrections in at the appropriate place in the post below.

It’s been nearly a month since Election Day and three and a half weeks since #BidenHarris have been the projected winner. It’s been a period of extreme stress and consternation — OK and a bit of comedy, a tragicomedy, really — as we’ve watched, the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and friends flail away at the election results in courts and re-counts. There has been lots of talk by Team Trump of voter and election fraud with the conspiracy necessary to change that many votes across so many jurisdictions growing by leaps and bounds. There’s been lots of mumbling about evidence and in true Trump tradition, it will be produced at some point in the vague future as he told Fox News on the phone just the other day, I said I’d like to file, to the lawyers, I’d like to file one nice big beautiful lawsuit talking about this and many other things with tremendous proof. Of course, that proof is never forthcoming in the court cases or on the news shows.

How ’bout a five star rating?

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Nevertheless, it’s been touch and go for awhile. Many people were worried that he might could succeed in stealing the election. But state legislatures, state elections officials and state and federal judges have all withstood the pressure to steal the election for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber. Our democratic norms have held.

However, the threat to our democracy is not over. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber has two more opportunities to steal the election. They both could work, but one is more likely than the other.

The remainder of this post cribs liberally from the earlier funnier post, The Great Civics Lesson: How Trump will use the Electoral College to Steal the Election. You may want to check that post for background information like how the Electoral College works and the calendar of electoral events until now. We’ll start with the remainder of the calendar and then look at the vulnerabilities that are remaining.

The Election Calendar

These are the remaining important dates coming up:

  1. 8 DECEMBER or SIX DAYS before the FIRST MONDAY after the SECOND WEDNESDAY in DECEMBER or SAFE HARBOR DAY: This is the date set for states to resolve any controversies or contests as to the appointment of electors.
    1. The states have until this date to send their Certificates of Ascertainment — the state’s electors’ credentials — to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). That’s the state’s slate of electors.
    2. This is the date that the Electoral College actually votes for the president and vice president, and, then, a Certificate of the Vote is sent to NARA.
  3. 23 DECEMBER or NO LATER THAN NINE DAYS after the MEETING of the ELECTORS: This date is the absolute deadline for submitting the receipt of electoral votes at NARA.
  4. 3 JANUARY: The Certificate of the Vote is transferred to Congress. What’s important here is that this is the NEW Congress that was elected back in November and sworn in already. The Office of the Federal Register’s (OFR’s) legal staff meets with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House to accomplish the dirty deed.
  5. 6 JANUARY: The NEW Congress meets in a joint session presided over by the CURRENT VP or Mother Pence to count the electoral votes.
    1. Objections to the vote can be made, but for an objection to be considered it has to be offered jointly by a member of the Senate and House. Once made, the House and Senate consider it separately in their own Chambers.
    2. If no candidates receive a majority of the Electoral College vote, then the House chooses the president and the Senate, the vice president.
    3. If for some reason, a state submits two competing sets of electoral votes to Congress, then the two Houses of Congress must act together to either accept or reject them. If they cannot, then the electors that were certified by the governor of the state is the one counted in Congress.
  6. 20 JANUARY at NOON: The newly minted president and vice president are inaugurated.
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Points of Vulnerability

Let’s take a look at what options are left for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and how likely they are to succeed.

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The problem that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber faces is that he has lost by too much in too many states. To win the Electoral College, a candidate has to win 270 electoral college votes. #BidenHarris won 306 EC votes — in a special twist of karmic comeuppance that’s exactly what the Ol’ Pussy Grabber won in 2016; not enough is made of this fact in the popular media — which means that Trump needs 38 EC votes to take the win from #BidenHarris which is more than any single state can deliver.

He’s targeted Pennsylvania’s 20 votes, Michigan’s 16, Wisconsin’s 10, Georgia’s 16, Arizona’s 11, and Nevada’s 6. Some combination of those states should give him what he needs.

The Courts

As predicted int Ye Olde Blogge and other places, he targeted specific precincts and counties to have the votes overturned and rejected. They’ve worked hard to drum up “evidence” of voter fraud using eyewitness affidavits which the courts have rejected resoundingly, especially in Pennsylvania. Even the vaunted Trump appointed judges have ruled against him.

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He’s got one last gasp with the courts. He can appeal his latest loss to the Surpremes if they’ll take it. The case is really merit-less, so I doubt they take it, but who knows. SCOTUS decides which cases to take by a vote. The Justices who vote to take it have been wholly bought and paid for by the GOP.

So, if his court challenges to validity of the votes and the certifications of the of the vote have just about run their course, then what’s left for him to do? He thinks he’s being clever by saying things like, “Time will tell,” “If the Electoral College votes for him,” and “[Biden] has to prove all of his votes are legal.” Trump’s executive dysfunction causes him to blurt his plans ahead of time. You can match these statements up to the remaining tow vulnerabilities. All he’s really telling us is that he isn’t done.

If the Electoral College Votes for Him

There are a variety of points of vulnerability concerning the electoral college. Some of them are passing and very unlikely others are still to be faced and very possible.

Certifying the Vote

One strategy is to delay the certification of the vote by the states until the Supreme Court has to weigh in. The deadline of 14 December is very real and hard, but it also looks like the votes will be certified by all the the states or at least enough to give #BidenHarris 270 electoral college votes. They made a run at it, but it has failed.

Slates of Electors

Trump had tried to pressure the Michigan and Pennsylvania state legislatures into appointing competing slates of electors, but none seem likely to do so. This threat, too, seems to have passed.

Faithless Electors

The next thing that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is likely to try is finding, read that buy, 38 faithless electors. Of course, Trump being a narcissist and all, he’s likely to want to beat Biden’s and his old Electoral College vote count, so he’ll go for more.

Likelihood of success: Pretty small.

First, electors are partisans, so it’ll take some convincing to get them to switch this time. However, 10 of the 19 faithless electors in the history of presidential elections refused to vote for Clinton in 2016. And, the Repubes did buy Justice Kennedy’s resignation from SCOTUS and pay off Boof-K’s debt, so they could very well spill enough coin to pick up 38 faithless electors.

Second, any substantial shift in the vote would be challenged in court. The behavior of electors is covered by state law, not federal.

  • Thirty-two jurisdictions require their electors to vote for the popular vote winner. There are no penalties in nineteen of those jurisdictions for being a faithless elector, though.
  • Eleven states nullify the vote of a faithless elector and replace the elector with one who will vote right.
  • And, four jurisdictions can prosecute or fine a faithless elector.

PREDICTION: Look for something to happen here. We may not find out about it until after the fact, though. Not likely to succeed.

[Biden] has to prove all of his votes are legal.

A joint session of Congress has to meet and count the Electoral College votes. Remember kids, if they can’t count the vote because of unresolved objections, the House meets to choose the president and the Senate, the vice president. The House votes by state delegation, one vote per state determined by its delegation. The Repubes still have the majority of delegates in 26 of the states. The Repubes will control the House for the purpose of selecting the president. And, Pence will preside over the senate where our best outcome is a 50-50 tie. He’ll be the tie breaker in selecting the vice president. This is why the down ballot races were so important this year and why the loss of House seats and not taking Senate seats was so devastating.

How likely is it that some jerk offs from the House and Senate get together to give each other handies to object to the electoral college? Pretty fucking likely. In fact, wasn’t Rand Paul tweeting about magic margins that shouldn’t change as caches of votes were counted from different precincts because neither voting method or geographic area should predict the lean of the vote.

We can start naming the usual suspects now: Nunes, Jordan, Gaetz, Gohmert in the House tag teaming Graham, Paul, Blackburn, Johnson in the Senate. Here’s a fun game: name your favorite pair of Repube Congressional fuck ups in the comments!

Once an objection is made, the voting stops with whatever state is being counted and the objection made to their vote. Let’s say Paul and Gaetz tag team Pennsylvania’s Electoral College vote as seems likely. The House and the Senate will retire to their chambers to argue about the objection. Apparently, it the argument is limited to two hours and each member gets five minutes to speak. or at least they did the last time all of this happened back in 2000. Each chamber gets to make their own rules about this stuff. Then, each chamber vote, each member getting one vote. If it goes along party lines, the House votes to allow the votes of Pennsylvania, the Senate does not. Then, nothing happens. The objection is not resolved. Nothing can happen until the objection is resolved. Nothing can happen. Eventually, 20 January roles around. A president and Vice President have not been named, so Nancy Pelosi or whoever the Speaker of the House is will be inaugurated. Interestingly, the house could elect Joe Biden Speaker, and if this route presents itself, allow him to be sworn in that way. He could appoint Harris as his VP, and the House could elect Nancy Pelosi Speaker.

If you want, you can watch the tedious hour-long video of this lawyer drone on about all kinds of irrelevant things and eventually get to the Constitution and the election of the president.

You can also check this report from the Congressional Research Service published on 15 November 2016 when we were all trying to figure out if there was a procedural way to stop Trump from becoming president.


First, the Repubes have made it abundantly clear that they don’t give a tinker’s damn about democracy or any of our votes. We screwed up when we didn’t flip House seats and take the Senate.

And second, the courts have made it very clear that they do not like getting involved in procedural matters of other branches of government. This falls within the rule set out in the Constitution. I doubt we can rely on the courts to undo it should it be tried.

PREDICTION: I’m not entirely convinced that given a fumble or two by the Dems and some brazen daring do by the Repubes that this wouldn’t work, but it is no longer likely. Also, I fully expect nearly every Repube to bravely make a defiant floor speech decrying the sabotage of our election and the shameless theft by the Dems. There will be much posturing and grandstanding for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, MAGAs, and the cameras. I can’t imagein that the Grahams, Johnsons, and Pauls of the Senate and Gaetzes, Jordans, and Gohmerts of the House could pass up the opportunity to make objections, but I think it all comes to naught like very other attempt to steal the election has.

This would be the time for the #Resistance to hit the streets in serious protest, though.

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“Burglar + Bag” by John Graham X is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

19 replies »

  1. In complexity, there is always opportunity for failure in the system, and in this case for manipulation and chicanery. Isn’t it odd how in some countries they can hold a vote (honest or otherwise) and install a Chief Executive or Parliamentary Majority Leader as PM, in a matter of days of a couple of weeks (leaving aside the instances of parliamentary systems failing to assemble a ruling coalition),

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!
      In many ways, we’re asking for trouble by allowing unlimited amounts of dark money to be used in our elections and making it such a Byzantine process. It is a testament to how much the safeguards the Founders thought were necessary are no longer needed. We aren’t even aware of the steps or how they could be used to subvert the vote, even though, that was the reason they were put in place. If they were used, we’d be outraged and hopefully there would be rioting in the streets. There is no clearer indication that they need to be changed than that.


      • The combination of complex process (originally designed to not give “the passions of the majority” too much power by introducing intermediaries) and untraceable money is hugely dangerous. I’m afraid that fixing the problem, if it can be accomplished at all, would be a slow and piecemeal process. I have thought about what the result might. perhaps, would have to look like: https://cabbagesandkings524.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/fixing-our-politics-you-work-for-who-pays-you-moblopomo-2026-8-of-30/

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!
          I’ve often reflected upon what our Founding Fathers meant about mob rule and why the feared it so much. To some degree that is what we have now. I remember when California voted for Prop 13 and significantly limited its tax base while voting to expand state services. It led to years of budgeting difficulties, hardship, and headache. And of course there is the disastrous Brexit vote that has plunged Great Britain into confusion and chaos for the past four years. At the same time, we’ve long since accepted that we should have one-person-one-vote as our basic principle of democracy. We no longer believe as a people that we need to protect ourselves from ourselves, but we lack the political wherewithal to actually tackle the problem because mob rule. It’s a real dog chasing its tail kind of thing.

          One thing is for sure, though. The GOP will continue attacking our democracy until the voters make them pay for it. So far, they have not been punished at the ballot box.



          • “Divide and conquer” works. As for “Mob Rule”, it is important to remember that those Founders were the grandsons and great grandsons of men who had experienced the English Civil War in the previous century and knew well the history of the Reformation and Counter-reformation wars (hence, the separation of Church and State). They were also men of property and had that to protect. It is also a pretty safe bet that most or all of them had read Cicero and other writers of the rise and fall of the Roman Republic. There is much to be said for a Classical Education.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!
              It seems that everywhere democracy is introduced there is an immediate fight over the expansion of the franchise. The Ancient Greeks started with an extremely limited electorate. Then slowly expanded it to be more inclusive. It is the same fight that we’ve had here. The tension is always between self service and service to the community as a whole. Rule by a small upper echelon of voters tends to serve the needs of that small upper echelon of voters. We resolved this issue by substituting money for the voting franchise. Now, it is only the big donors who have influence over their representatives. In essence, ending the influence of money is the next fight in the expansion of the franchise.



              • Taking the “You work for who pays you.” principle on a step, if political campaigns are 100% publicly funded, then the candidates don’t know who is paying them in money and have to look to votes as payment and work for who voted for them. Add to that open primaries, then they are incentivized to appeal to as broad a coalition of voters as possible rather then a highly motivated (for better or worse) base.
                Limiting funding contributions to registered voters who can actually vote for the candidate would have a possibility of dark money being funneled through that system, but would also incentivize a broad appeal.

                Reducing the financial resources of party organizations would also be an effect of either of those plans. Reducing the cost of campaigns (currently being driven ever higher by the mega-donors and PACs) would allow more participation by independents and smaller parties.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!
                  Two electoral practices that I love: (1) jungle primaries and (2) ranked voting. I was listening to some people talk about the Georgia runoff system, and they were saying that it was designed to disenfranchise black voters by making them come back and vote a second time. In part it took advantage of the natural difficulties that black voters have in voting since they are more likely to be hourly wage earners and less likely to be given time off work to vote. So, maybe jungle primaries aren’t the best idea since they require two rounds of voting. But, with the advent of mail-in voting — putting that toothpaste back in the bottle will be pretty difficult — it may be easier.

                  Ranked voting makes sense in eliminating the runoff. It’s like you have the election and the runoff simultaneously. It allows you to vote your heart and your brain. So, win-win.



                  • Oh, I forgot about Rank Voting. They seem to like it in Maine. And, I suspect that much of the GOP complaining about mail-in voting has to do exactly with it making voting easier for groups they want to suppress or discourage. That may also apply to proposals to make Election Day a National Holiday, or change it to a weekend day, and their efforts to limit early voting.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      Like many Republicans have said out loud. The more people who can vote, the worse the GOP does. Their path to victory means limiting the franchise by any means necessary. Remember this is the party of the 35 year consent decree banning them from doing anything that would intimidate voters at polling places after placing armed off-duty cops at polling places with armbands reading “Ballot Security Task Force” and having sent letters stating that it was illegal to falsify a ballot or violate election laws. 2018 was the first election without it and they were back to their old tricks and we saw them this year, too. Just like after the Voting Rights Act was gutted, they passed laws making it more difficult for PoC to vote.



                    • And “Voter Fraud” has been the cry for Voter ID laws, until this year when the specter of in-person fraud was replaced with mail-in fraud. And at least one possibly likely candidate for 2024 will keep the fantasy going loud and constant.

                      Side Issue: The Conservative Snowflakes who think that eliminating Section 230 of the CDA will stop social media from “censoring” them may succeed in shooting themselves (along with everybody else) in both feet. Making the platforms liable for every single word and image posted will make fact checking and labeling factually suspect content a legal necessity, and any claim of a problem with any item of content a potential law suit.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      Their war on private industry censorship is going to backfire like their voter suppression efforts. It will awaken the sleeping giant and we will storm off to the polling places and vote.

                      Signature matching is the new voter ID.



                    • Therein sits the great American misunderstanding about the First Amendment, that the guarantee of Free Speech applies in private spaces and all circumstances, when the Amendment speaks only of a limit on actions by the government. The regulation, public and private, of false and offensive speech has always, and will always be fraught on the boundary between the rights between the rights of speaker and hearer, and between privilege and responsibility.

                      As for signature matching, Yep

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      The past four years have demonstrated two things: (1) Most Americans don’t understand how democracy and our government works and (2) the effects of willful ignorance are incredibly powerful, perhaps greater than life itself.


                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!
                      I think one of the true tragedies is that it doesn’t seem to matter that most people including Trump don’t understand how the government works. There is no connection between the two. Everyone’s life goes on regardless of understanding it. Similar to not really understanding how zippers work. Your pants remain zipped up more often than not without you understanding it. It doesn’t seem to matter. There is no incentive to do the hard work to understand it.

                      Interestingly, not understanding #COVID19 does seem to have a negative impact on people’s lives, but the willful ignorance goes on.



                    • As for the zippers, and many other things, apparently including the government, Arthur C. Clarke spoke truth when he said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”. There are those who have an apparently innate need to know how things work, and those who don’t. when systems upon which they rely fail to perform as desired, the ones who don’t tend to blame The Gods, The Devil, Bad Luck, or Bad People (i.e., conspiracies).

                      Much of the wilful ignorance about COVID seems to derive from religious thinking, the idea that poverty, disease, and such come from Divine Judgement and are a deserved punishment for one’s sins or those of one’s kin. Trump was raised with that thinking bout illness.

                      Liked by 1 person

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