How Brad Raffensperger Saved American Democracy

The Spirited Reasoner has decided to nominate Brad Raffensperger for a John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum Profile in Courage Award. See the following link:

“Who is Brad Raffensperger?” you ask.

“He’s the Georgia Secretary of State who stood firm against the angry critics in his own party, keeping his eye instead on the integrity of Georgia’s vote-counting machinery. This past Friday, he certified the state’s 16 electors for Joe Biden.

“But,” you say, “Georgia’s electoral votes were just icing on the cake for Joe Biden. He already had 290 votes, more than enough to win the election, which requires only 270.”

“Not so fast,” says the Spirited Reasoner.

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Donald Trump had won Georgia’s electoral votes, leaving Joe Biden with “only” 290. And let’s suppose that Trump could (somehow) succeed in placing the Pennsylvania electoral decision on hold, perhaps through a court decision rendered by a corrupt judge, rending Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes disputed or delayed. At that point, Biden’s total would drop to only 270, the bare majority needed for him to claim victory. If, at that point, only a single elector, anywhere in the United States, could be bribed, cajoled, or otherwise persuaded to switch his or her vote from Biden to Trump, then Joe Biden could no longer claim a majority.

In that scenario, even if Trump himself were not able to reach the 270 mark, perhaps because the Pennsylvania votes remained under a cloud, he might succeed in throwing the election into the House of Representatives. Pursuant to the 12th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, votes are not cast by individual representatives at the point. Rather, each state votes as a bloc. Thus, the votes of 26 states would be necessary to constitute a majority. At which point, President Trump would hope that, although Republicans do not constitute a majority of total House members, they might very well end up controlling a majority in 26 states.

Note the influence a person like President Trump could inflict on a single elector, perhaps one with political aspirations or one whose loyalty to Joe Biden was not quite as strong as we might normally assume. Imagine a rural citizen—perhaps one with very little prior experience in national political affairs—receiving an invitation to the White House for a personal interview with the President of the United States himself!

Now, back to Georgia. Now that Joe Biden’s expected total his risen to 306, the odds of a faithless elector are drastically reduced, because the outcome can no longer be changed by a single vote. Why should I, as a faithless elector, risk my reputation for a man whose fate I can no longer determine? Looking at the flip side of the same question, what would be in it for Donald Trump to put maximum pressure on a single elector when he needs 36 electors to seal the deal?

Take Georgia out of the Biden total and the machinations of the President’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, start to make more Machiavellian sense. If he and his boss could just flip Michigan or Pennsylvania, plus a few stray electors here and there, they might still hold Joe Biden short of the magic 270 mark.

Thanks to the courage of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a potentially ruthless opportunity to steal the 2020 presidential election has just been placed out of reach.

Profile in Courage, indeed.