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Congress ‘Could’ Keep Trump From Winning — But Would They Want To?

While researching another article, I bunny-trailed into an obscure law pertaining to how Electoral votes are counted.

Since 1887, 3 U.S.C. 15 gives Congress the right to invalidate Electoral votes — either specific electors or even an entire state’s vote.

The process is remarkably simple, one senator and one house member must make a written objection to the Electoral votes in question (which could be all of them). This puts into motion a set protocol, where the chambers divide and consider the objection — with a 2-hour time limit to decide.

If both chambers agree with the objection, by a simple majority vote, the Electoral votes in question are not counted. They could disqualify enough elector’s votes to make no winner of an Electoral majority — sending the power to elect the president to the House and vice-president to the Senate.

In effect, the Congress could legally rob any presidential election they wanted to — but would it be desirable?

It would be a political nightmare and almost certainly the death of the Electoral College if this was ever employed successfully. Only twice in our history have objections been recorded using this law, with both chambers rejecting the objections in 1969 and 2005.

During the next year, a commission was formed, ultimately giving the Congress the authority to disqualify Electoral results -- and that power was given with no restrictions on when the law could be employed.

Already a good chunk of America is outright angry about Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, but what would happen if the rug was pulled out from under Trump — cheating him out of the Electoral win?

Now, with both chambers under Republican control, the Clinton followers would still be angry — a Republican replacement would be an almost certainty.

The part of this that shocks me is that I haven’t really seen any of the ‘stop Trump’ movement trying to promote this strategy. My Google search turned up nothing and I hadn’t seen any stories other than click-bait ones with the spin of ‘it’s not possible’ to stop Trump at this point.

I’m always intrigued by these type of wild political possibilities, but such a move would be almost certain political suicide for the members of congress jumping on board.

But the history of this law is outright fascinating.

During the election of 1876, Florida was in the national spotlight with allegations of outright balloting fraud by state officials–giving Hayes the election by one Electoral vote over Tilden.

The problems came in canvassing the vote, the process where the state certifies the different precincts’ results — and with considerable liberty, the canvassers disqualified enough votes to ensure that Hayes won the presidential election and Marcellus Stearns the governorship.

Congress in turn received two certificates of the outcome of the election. One from the legislature, certifying that Tilden won, the other from Governor Stearns certifying that Hayes won.

They had no choice but to accept the certificate from the governor — but Congress wasn’t about to let that happen again.

During the next year, a commission was formed, ultimately giving the Congress the authority to disqualify Electoral results — and that power was given with no restrictions on when the law could be employed.

At some point this election cycle, someone will advocate employing this law as a strategy to keep Trump from being placed in office — but it’s unlikely that such a tactic would be employed.

But in the end, the most amazing part of this entire law is that Rutherford Hayes won the election of 1876 due to the engineering of an election in Florida by state officials.

No matter how weird things get in 2016, it’s amazing that we’ve seen even worse throughout our history, and still managed to only have one Civil War.

Photo Credit: Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com