Tanzina Vega: You're listening to The Takeaway. I'm Tanzina Vega. President Trump is losing the fight to overturn Joe Biden's election win, but his efforts to disrupt the process of vote certification could establish a troubling new precedent in elections for years to come. On Friday, Georgia confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden has won the state's 16 electoral votes. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp certified the election results after a full hand recount of the nearly 5 million votes. In response, the Trump campaign requested yet another recount which will be paid for by Georgia taxpayers and is still unlikely to overturn the win for Biden.
Over the weekend in Pennsylvania, a federal judge ruled against the Trump campaign's effort to delay that state's vote certification saying they had not provided evidence to support their accusations of voter fraud. Joining me now is Aderson Francois, law professor at Georgetown University and director of its Voting Rights Institute. Aderson, welcome to the show.
Aderson Francois: Thank you for having me.
Tanzina: How does the certification process look like in normal times?
Aderson: In normal times, a fairly routine matter. Each state have their own procedures for certifying, but once the vote is certified at a county level, it is then certified at the state level. By federal law, all states must have their votes certified, and all recounts settled no later than December 8. Then, the Electoral College meets on December 14.
Tanzina: Last week, President Trump reportedly called two Republican canvassers to thank them for trying to stop the certification process in Michigan's Wayne County, and he also invited Republican members of Michigan State Legislature to the White House on Friday. These moves cross lines, don't they Aderson?
Aderson: Yes, to begin with, the move was a bit moot because the canvassers had actually voted to certify, and even though they wrote an affidavit re-sending their vote after they spoke to the President, that decision is of no consequence. Their votes have already been certified. Now the next step is what happens today in Michigan, where the State Board of Canvassers meet to certify the vote, and at least one of them have indicated that they will decline to certify. The Board is split two-two between Republicans and Democrats. If they tie two-two, then it goes to the legislature, and there's no real process for determining what happens then.
Tanzina: We mentioned Michigan, and the Trump campaign has targeted several cities in that state with Black populations in their efforts to overturn the results. That includes Detroit. We've also seen it happen in Milwaukee and in Philadelphia. Many folks are saying that these are voter suppression tactics for Black voters and Black votes. Do you see these as a civil rights issue?
Aderson: Of course, of course, it is. It is no accident that in fact, what the President has done is to target these cities. It is no accident that in targeting these cities he's made allegations without any evidence whatsoever that there's been fraud. It is no accident that the narrative that he's trying to craft is that these so-called, "Democratic one" cities, which is like another word for Black, are corrupt. What he's attempting to do is to simply delegitimize the election by suggesting that, in fact, there was corruption in these "Black cities"
Tanzina: Is it possible for a state legislature to appoint electors who vote for Donald Trump even if the state itself did not?
Aderson: By law, no, because 48 states and the District of Columbia by law are required to appoint the electors of the candidates who won the popular vote, and this is pretty ministerial. Now, the fact of the matter is we have never had an instance in which the state legislatures have overturned the popular vote and chosen a slate of electors of the candidates who lost the popular vote.
Tanzina: Let's talk a little bit about what's happening in Georgia because the state there, including a Republican Governor Brian Kemp, certified the election results. They did a full hand recount of nearly 5 million votes, and yet President Trump's campaign is going back and requesting another recount. This will be paid for by Georgia taxpayers. Do the taxpayers have to pay for this, even if the election results have already been certified? I mean, this feels slightly unfair to the taxpayers.
Aderson: It is, and what's really going on it's not that he's hoping to overturn the result. What's really going on here is that by law, all re-counts in all states must be settled by December 8. The endgame that the Trump campaign is running right now is to try to delay the process, to try to throw a wrench in the works, if you will, so that by the time December 8 comes around he has a number of states that are not certified, and therefore he can make an argument that since there's been no certification, the state legislatures must appoint the electors.
Again, as I suggested, there is no precedent for this. We ought to be clear as to what we're talking about, because sometimes when we looked at the Trump campaign strategies, sometimes folks refer to it as subverting democracy or going against democratic norms. That's not what's going on. What's going on is that the President lost the election, and he's trying to overturn the result, is literally trying to steal the election, so we ought to be clear and call it by its name.
Tanzina: Aderson, what are the long term implications of these moves that the President is making?
Aderson: I think the long term implication is, obviously, on the one hand, perhaps he's trying to take a long-shot attempt at overturning the result. On the other hand, in the longer term, what he's trying to do is to make President-elect Biden seem to be an illegitimate president. Again, I think we have to be clear that we've reached a point now where I call it the "OJ on the 405 in a white Bronco" phase of the Trump campaign, and Giuliani is Al Cowlings. It helps to remember that basically, this is going to be damaging in the long term. In long-term, I think the story he's trying to say for four years is that he won the election and Joe Biden is illegitimate.
Tanzina: Aderson Francois is a law professor at Georgetown University and the director of its Voting Rights Institute. Aderson, thanks so much.
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