2020 Election (Anti-Coup) Guide

November 20 Update:

Biden/Harris won the election (both popular & electoral college) by a big enough margin that the 12th Amendment gambit we describe below is not going to work — not that Trump won’t try.

Trump has lost 25+ alleged voter fraud cases, mostly thrown out for lack of evidence or lack of standing (as in: is there an actual victim?). Trump’s lawyers are making claims so wild about widespread fraud they should IMO be disbarred if they can’t prove it. FWIW, Trump has won one minor case, but it doesn’t matter.

The GOP has reportedly nudged several states with GOP legislatures to try to submit “dueling” slates of electors, as we predicted in August. The GOP would need multiple states doing so and it by itself won’t push Biden below 270. It’s unlikely to add enough to Trump either.

On the other hand, there are also claims the GOP is trying to force some states to certify too late to count their valid slate of electors in the Dec 14 total. A valid interpretation of the 12th Amendment says that the magic 270 elector number would drop by the amount of “missing” electors.

Another major roadblock for the attempted self-coup is that appointing any new electors after Nov 3 means someone is changing the rules of the election after the vote. State legislatures have a lot of power to set the rules for elections, but they needed to have acted in advance of the election, not after. The current slates of electors and alternates are all they can play with.

At least one lawyer I read claims, if all else fails, Congress can take drastic action to prevent an unfortunate and illegal outcome by playing chicken with their House majority to block any coup-driven vote and force the GOP to negotiate a peace deal. I hope it never comes to that, because it’s a truly nuclear option for everyone and it would make the Democrats seem like Autocrats.

Finally, Trump has also said he’d try to swing electors against their state’s popular vote (and against the law, FWIW). But so far it seems that none will or can. He’d need 37 at this point. It’s not going to happen, IMO.

While I’m sad that we didn’t get more states flipped blue in time to prevent this crazy gambit, we still won and that’s not going to change. Everyone who pushes Trump to remain in power at this point is going to be seen as completely un-American, seditious, and to the extent a foreign power may be involved, treasonous.

It’s nearly over. Dec 8–14 will nail it shut.

Previously, we wrote:

There are two main ways we know of that TrumpCo may try to usurp the law and the election this year, especially if he can’t win the votes.

One way is to ask GOP state legislatures to send in alternative slates of electors for the official Electoral College vote on Dec 14, which Pence, as President of the Senate, may cherry pick. Normally, these slates are aligned to the popular vote per state. At the very least this would set up a huge legal fight. And the President now has one more Justice on the Supreme Court — one who fought against recounting votes, electing Bush in 2000. [updated 10/26/20]

The second and related route they may pursue is the via a special House of Representatives election. There is much more we can do to prevent this now, given it’s the next House in January, not this one, that would vote.

The 12th Amendment

To win this election, a candidate must exceed 50% of the electoral college votes (270, as of now) on Dec 14th, 2020. If no one exceeds the threshold, then the House of Representatives will elect the next President in January.

That’s actually happened three times in history (see 1801: Jefferson v. Burr; 1825: Adams v. Jackson, 1877, Hayes v. Tilden). The process seems designed to address having 3 candidates with no clear majority.

This would be a win for Biden, except you may have heard that the House procedure casts one vote per state delegation (50), not per elected seat.

It’s fifty shades of nay. The overall Democratic majority doesn’t help. Assuming each state delegation goes with the majority of Representatives per state, Trump likely wins. [I don’t know how ties are resolved, and there are a few.]

Here’s the breakdown by party and state of how their House delegations would most likely vote today:

GOP (24): AL, AK, AR, GA, ID, IN, KS, KT, LA, MS, MO, NE, NC, ND, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WI, WV, WY

Dem (19): CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, MD, MA, MN, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, RI, VT, VA, WA

That’s 43 solidly in either camp, plus 7 more we’ll get to. But with only two more GOP states, Trump would most likely be re-elected by the House…

Unless…

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to focus on those seven states that could more easily flip or remain blue this year. It may only take a few extra wins for a viable insurance policy. That’s time and money well-spent.

All of these seven states could make the difference in this scenario. I’m showing the projected party split as (D:R) in terms of # of seats in each state delegation. The assumption is if D < R then the delegation votes for Trump.

So do whatever you can to support the Democrats and Independents in these pivotal states. If we get all 7, that gets to 26 and the House could actually elect Biden, which means Trump wouldn’t dare pursue this risky gambit.

Now, Back to The More Normal Stuff

The Presidential election is usually the main thing we consider. Individuals can give $1 to $2,800 directly to Biden/Harris right here. The more grass-roots support they see, the better they do. Everything helps.

But the key thing is to get such a clear and overwhelming win in November that even the GOP won’t dare challenge it. Remember, nothing is final as of election night. It may take a month or more to count all of the absentee votes.

This year, I’m also fond of small tactical groups using social media to sway hearts and minds. See the work of MeidasTouch, and Rebellion PAC for some very persuasive media aimed directly at undecided or mis-informed conservative voters.

Giving to PACs has much higher limits, but it can be confusing as to where the money goes. I tend to support candidates directly, but it takes more work. That’s why I’m sharing this, in the event it help or inspires you to do the same.

It’s essential to tip the Senate “blue” in 2020, so that even if Trump wins (or “forgets” to leave), he can still be held accountable in 2021. To undo damage and address the more fundamental issues, we need to pass legislation without McConnell shutting it down. The Senate GOP is almost entirely complicit and unwilling to provide accountability, or progress. IMO, they all need to go.

The filibuster and 60 vote rule should finally be put to rest, allowing simple majority passage, with the VP breaking any tie. Some votes, like conviction after House impeachment, still require 2/3 or 67 votes. But we only get to vote for 1/3 of the Senate every two years, so it could take time.

The following Senate races are most competitive — and most expensive. Your help could make a big difference in tipping the balance:

  • Doug Jones needs help getting reelected in Alabama
  • Jamie Harrison is working hard to unseat Lindsey Graham, who went from deploring Trump in 2015 to protecting him in power.
  • Amy McGrath is a moderate trying to deteat #1 GOP obstructionist Mitch McConnell, who has reduced the Senate to partisan trench warfare.
  • Theresa Greenfield and John Ossoff need help defeating Joni Ernst and David Perdue who are highly complicit in Trump’s crimes.
  • Sara Gideon should rightly defeat Susan Collins, who is perpetually “concerned” but never able to do the right thing.
  • Steve Bullock is running in a very close and expensive race against Steve Daines
  • Astronaut Mark Kelly is making great strides against Martha McSally in Arizona.
  • John Hickenlooper is also doing well againt Cory Gardner but needs help.

[Look for more key Senate races that I didn’t include as of August.]

If I still have any time and money left, my next priority is to further support opponents of some of Congress’ worst serial offenders. I already mentioned the fine Democratic replacements for McConnell, Graham, Ernst and McSally.

On the House side, we should also consider replacing the main enablers:

I want to be clear that I’m not advocating for all of the individual policies of all of the candidates I’ve mentioned. Also note: after donating to campaigns, you will likely receive texts and emails asking for more money. I’ve taken to unsubscribing from these due to boilerplate fatigue (e.g., “we’re 3,192 dollars away from our goal”). Some emails are downright manipulative and I often suggest firing the consultants who wrote them. But occasionally the actual candidate will call in person, reminding you it’s a real person you’re supporting.

Someday we’ll have public financing of campaigns to make this bizarre funding ritual go away, as we see with most civilized countries. For now, this is the best way to take back our Democracy.

Speaking for myself, I don’t want our kids to grow up in a fascist oligarchy, a government unwilling and unable to deal with the actual crises we face (pandemic, climate change, racism, nationalism, economic shifts).

I realize many folks reading this may be out of work, burnt out on work, worried about housing or otherwise struggling. We should really have publicly-funded elections. But for the current system, if you can’t give money, please consider giving your time to volunteer. Try sharing your story at the very least. Every bit helps.

So please donate what you can, and vote.

Design and Technology Leader (fmr. HoloLens, Apple, Google Earth, Second Life, Disney VR) Profile photo is from generated.photos (read “Who owns YOU?” for why)

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