WASHINGTON: With all the recent speculation that Donald Trump is going to challenge the election results (probably true), I checked to see who certifies the results. It is my understanding that the secretary of state in each state certifies the results.
Compared with 2016, when there were only five Democratic secretaries of state in the key swing states, the situation for Democrats has improved. Seven of those states now have Democratic secretaries of state – including all of the former “blue wall” states.
We’ve seen Republican secretaries of state make partisan decisions in the past: Florida in 2000 (presidential election – remember hanging chads?), Ohio in 2004 (presidential election) and Georgia in 2018 (gubernatorial election). So it matters who authorizes the vote tally.
The current secretaries of state of Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina are all Democrats. (Minnesota’s is a member of the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.)
It doesn’t mean that Trump won’t challenge their decisions to count all votes, but at least it’s not going to be rigged from within.
The potential bad news for Democrats: The state supreme courts in Michigan, Wisconsin and some other swing states, are Republican controlled. If a challenge goes to a state supreme court, I don’t count on the courts to put partisanship aside on ballot-counting. And the US Supreme Court, even before the death Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, seemed to be inclined to rubber-stamp lower court rulings.
Another factor, since there has been speculation that Trump and/or US Attorney General William Barr might try to suspend vote-counting before all mail-in ballots are counted, is that Democrats now control the governorships in all three of the former “blue wall” states that Hllary Clinton lost in 2016 (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) plus North Carolina, currently rated by pollsters as a tossup.
In 2016, only one of those four states (Pennsylvania) had a Democratic governor.
Why might this be important? Governors, historically, call the National Guard into action in the event of an emergency. Might an attempt by the administration (or a “militia” group) to interfere with the vote-count be considered an emergency? I would think so, but I’m not a lawyer.
A native of the swing state of Pennsylvania, Roger Schreffler spent decades covering the automobile and parts industries as a foreign correspondent. He currently watches both cars and politics from Providence, Rhode Island.