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With no success in court, Trump tries to convince legislatures of states where Biden won to appoint delegates in his favor

Trump tries to convince legislatures from states where Biden won to appoint delegates in his favor Image: Reuters

After more than two weeks of unsuccessful legal battles in different states, in an attempt to reverse the outcome of the presidential election that gave Democrat Joe Biden victory, American President Donald Trump begins to put a new strategy into practice.

The Republican argues, without showing evidence, that the elections were rigged and refuses to acknowledge the result and start the government transition process.

The expectation was that Trump would change his behavior after Biden’s confirmation as new president at the Electoral College on December 14.

But Trump is rehearsing an attempt to wield the bureaucratic machine of indirect election in his favor and change the projected result, from 306 delegates to Biden, against 232 collected by Trump.

To be elected, a candidate must obtain 270 votes at the electoral college. Each state in the country has a given number of delegates and, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, the winning candidate in the state’s popular vote takes all delegates from the area.

What is Trump’s plan?

First, Trump has tried measures to delay or hinder the certification of ballot results by each of the American states.

Certification is the mere formalization of total votes and the indication of which delegates will represent the state in the Electoral College.

In Wisconsin, he paid $ 3 million (R $ 16.1 million) for a recount of votes, the result of which should only come out within the deadline for certification.

In Michigan, the American president personally called one of the Republican election officials in Wayne County, in the Detroit region, who sealed his defeat by a margin of about 150,000 votes. The representative, who had already positioned herself in favor of electoral certification in the region, turned back.

In Georgia, Trump pressured Republican authorities not to finalize the certification, which ended on Friday (11/20), even after the recount confirmed Biden’s victory.

In Arizona, members of the Republican Party have prevented certification in a small rural county. which can delay the officialization of the entire state.

Without certifications, Trump would enter the field with the second step of the strategy: change the number of delegates for each side.

His campaign has suggested to state legislative representatives in which Republicans have a majority who, in light of alleged Trump fraud, ignore the polls and appoint pro-Trump delegates even in those states where Biden won.

This is a possibility that the Trump campaign has publicly flirted with, even before the November 3 vote.

On September 23, a report in the American magazine The Atlantic claimed to have heard from Republican Party sources that the possibility was under study.

At the same time that such discussions were taking place privately at the club, Trump publicly refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power.

In theory, there would be a legal loophole for this type of maneuver. This is because the American Constitution, in its second article, establishes that each State must appoint its representatives to the Electoral College “in the way that its Legislature determines.”

According to Keith E. Whittington, professor of political science at Princeton University, the model for choosing delegates by legislatures, with no popular participation, was scarcely seen in the United States.

“In the beginning of the country’s history, state legislatures often simply appointed delegates. It did not take long for a more democratic sensibility to take over: state legislatures established election procedures in which voters could choose representatives and thus choose the president effectively, since the candidates for delegate committed to vote for a certain candidate for the Presidency “, wrote Whittington, in an article for the newspaper The Washington Post.

“In 1796, less than half of the states still used the legislative selection of delegates. The last state legislature to choose voters was that of Colorado in 1876, and that was only because the state was admitted to the Union too late in the presidential election cycle to organize a claim. “

Charge on state legislatures

And while nothing like this happened in the United States in more than a century, in 2000, during the legal battle between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore over Florida’s presidential vote, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that a state ” can retake the power to appoint delegates “, removing this attribution from the people. The decision could serve as a basis for the measure tried by Trump.

This is exactly what the Republican campaign asked the Justice in Pennsylvania, in an 86-page document revealed by Bloomberg.

“This court should file an order [alegando] that the results of the 2020 general presidential election are flawed, allowing the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose, “say lawyers in the court petition.

Republicans dominate the legislature in Pennsylvania and have already said that such a measure would not be a possibility.

Private pressure on lawmakers in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia has already led them to position themselves openly or among their peers.

The Republican leader in the Wisconsin Legislature, Robin Vos, for example, came out to say that “under our laws, we have no part in this (electoral) process”.

So did Mike Shirkey, Michigan Senate leader. “Michigan law does not include a provision for the legislature to select delegates directly or grant delegates to anyone other than the one who received the most votes,” he said last week.

Despite this, Shirkey and state mayor Lee Chatfield agreed to meet Trump at the White House on Friday.

And while they did not open the agenda for the meeting, Tom Barrett, a state parliamentarian and Trump’s first-time ally, who has been pushing for non-certification of votes based on fraud allegations, also attended the event.

The strategy is so clear that it was openly criticized on Thursday by Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who has a history of confrontations with Trump.

“Having failed to present even a plausible case of fraud or widespread conspiracy before the courts, the president now resorts to open pressure on state and local authorities to subvert the will of the people and reverse the election. It is difficult to imagine more anti-democratic action. of an incumbent American president, “said Romney, on Twitter.

What is the chance to work?

To succeed in the endeavor, Trump would need to make the plan work in at least three states, to obtain the required number of delegates at the Electoral College and become the winner.

So far, there is nothing to suggest that he may be able to convince political and bureaucratic machines to bow to his will in three different states.

Even in the remote possibility that this would happen, there would certainly be legal battles to question the measures taken by the legislatures and that would plunge the country into weeks of uncertainty and tension. The American press has called the move “unprecedented” and “potentially illegal”.

For this reason, part of the American analysts believe that the movements are yet another way for the American president to show his electoral base, which guaranteed him more than 73 million votes, that he is a victim of the system, a outsider unfairly defeated, expelled from what he calls the political “swamp” of Washington DC, the American capital.

And American media claim that Trump has already told advisers that he intends to run for president in 2024. Without a mandate for the next four years, he has the task of keeping that base cohesive and loyal to his name and not to any other Republican who might emerge prominently. in opposition to the Biden government.

For now, Trump’s public speech has shown great effectiveness with his audience. According to an opinion poll recently released by The Economist between 15 and 17 November, 43% of Americans believe that Biden did not win the election legitimately.

Among those who voted for Trump, that percentage jumps to 88%.

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