Trump Allies Want 'Alternative Electors' to Declare Him Winner of the Electoral College

Spoiler alert: Their "Hail Mary" attempt has no chance legally.
December 14, 2020, 4:53pm
U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.

As the Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory, President Trump and his allies are making one last-ditch effort to overturn the results. But the efforts were met with a collective eye-roll from legal experts, who said they’d go nowhere.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller announced on Fox News Monday morning that pro-Trump electors were meeting in five states Biden won to declare themselves the rightful electors, an attempt to give Congress a chance to overturn Biden’s win when it meets on Jan. 6 to ratify the results.

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“The only date in the Constitution is January 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. “As we speak, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we are going to send those results up to Congress.”

It seems that Miller wasn’t making this up: GOP Michigan state Rep. Gary Eisen told a local radio show that pro-Trump electors planned to meet on Monday in a “Hail Mary” effort to try to certify themselves as the proper electors from the state. 

But just because a bunch of sore losers declare themselves the winner doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to them. Election law experts told VICE News that the effort had no basis in law. 

Ned Foley, a contested-elections expert and law professor at the Ohio State University, said it was already too late for Republicans to attempt to seat their own slates of electors. They would have needed to get a stamp of approval from the state legislature before the fact to meet. Right now, it appears that a bunch of pro-Trump activists are just going to gather and declare him the winner with no legal power to do so.

“They have no authority if they’re just saying they’re self-appointed, and even if they were appointed by the Legislature, it’s too late,” he said. “You’d have to get some authority under state law beforehand for these electors to matter.”

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Democrats shook their heads at the effort.

“This is nothing more than pathetic political theater by a defeated campaign,” Marc Elias, Democrats’ top election attorney, told VICE News in an email.

Just because these efforts are almost certain to fail doesn’t make them any less dangerous, however. Trump’s longstanding claims that the election was rigged against him have convinced large majorities of his voters that he’s right. This past weekend’s violent pro-Trump protests and the fact that Michigan Democrats are meeting remotely to certify Biden’s win because of a credible threat of violence show that these claims can lead to bloodshed. 

There are signs that could be in the works on Monday as well. Eisen, the Michigan state lawmaker, refused to promise there wouldn’t be violence in the process. He was immediately stripped of his committee slots by Michigan lawmakers.

The White House did not return a VICE News request for comment.