Friday, November 20, 2020

The New Coup Attempt

 OK, I thought that the collapse of Trump's lawsuits and the flight of his top lawyers was going to do in his coup attempt.  But we now see a far more desperate effort going on, although with Trump still trying to stay at least marginally within legal boundaries, although not by much, and clearly trying every single thing he can do to block Biden's victory.  It is getting down to blocking certification of results in enough states so that even if he cannot get legislatures to approve pro-Trump electors, highly unlikely as illegal in all the swing states actually, but to have the situation undecided so that nobody goes from enough states so that when Electoral College votes on Dec. 14, Biden falls short of the necessary 270, which would then throw it to the House of Representatives, where Trump would win because a majority of the states have majority GOP representation, and the voting is by state. The last time the House determined the outcome was in 1824, when second place John Quincy Adams defeated first place in both popular and electoral votes Andrew Jackson, as Henry Clay threw his support to Adams in return for being appointed Secretary of State.

The sign of how desperate Trump has become is that even though GOP Sec of State in Georgia Raffensperger has certified that Biden won Georgia, in the face of calls for his resignation and death threats, that needs to be signed by the GOP Governor Kemp, whom apparently Trump is calling and pressuring not to sign off, again, the effort to simply have things unresolved as of Dec. 14.

Needless to say, the conspiracy theory pushed by Guiliani and Sidney Powell in yesterday's insane press conference is completely off the wall, that there has been a nationwide conspiracy to use Dominion machines to add votes for Biden in certain major cities, with the program coming from Venezuela via some antifa people where it was written originally to help keep Hugo Chavez in power. Wow. But only two GOP senators have stepped forward to denounce this nonsense: Romney and Sasse, with supposedly 70% of GOP voters still buying the story that the election was "stolen" from Trump, with this wild Venezuela theory the latest to support that, even as nearly all the legal cases have collapsed due to a total lack of any evidence.

The immediate focus of this new coup effort has been on Michigan, where Trump is encouraging the militias who have threatened to take over the state house and start executing "tyrants" on TV, most certainly including Gov. Whitmer.  For the first time in US history ever we nearly had a Board of Canvassers not certify a clear electoral outcome, this in Wayne County, which includes Detroit.  The two Republicans initially blocking the certification then backed off after pressure arrived, but with Trump calling them on the phone, they apparently want to go back to non-certifying.  But too late, all counties have now certified.  Which puts it up to the state board, which must act on Monday, Nov. 23, but one of the two GOP members there is talking about non-certifying, and Trump is meeting right now with the GOP leaders of the legislature, presumably about trying to get them to appoint pro-Trump electors in any case, in clear violation of existing law.  The only good thing there, aside from Biden having a 157,000 vote lead, is that apparently Gov. Whitmer has the legal authority to replace a member of the State Board of Canvassers, so hopefully if they do try to refuse to certify, she will act to make sure there is a certification. But the hard fact is that Trump is throwing everything he has to block Biden getting the 16 electoral votes from Michigan.

He has called for a recount in the two most Dem counties in Wisconsin, which is going on now and will probably not change Biden's 20,000 plus lead much.  But also he is playing to the state legislature and the Board of Canvassers to block Biden.  Apparently the legislature has no authority to do anything other than support the certified winner. The positive there is that ultimately it is the Chair of that board who certifies, and she is a Dem.  It is astounding that we are getting down to this.

He is making efforts in AZ and NV, but they do not look like they are going anywhere, although in AZ GOP is in control of the state machinery, so cannot yet be ruled out.

Which brings us to the big prize of PA, where Trump has been throwing more efforts, both legal and political, than anywhere else, well, with the possible exception of MI. Biden has a more than 50,000 vote lead, but the effort has been to block certification in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (Allegany County).  He did get one of his few legal victories there, leading to over 2,000 absentee ballots in Allegany Cty not getting counted. But that will not overturn things there.  The gov and AG are Dem, but I am not sure who is in charge of certification at the state level, and Trump has been playing to legislators. There are more suits there still ongoing, with apparently 18 still nationwide, including at least one in NV, also trying to block certification.

It may be that MI and PA are Trump's best shots, unless he can get Gov. Kemp in GA not to sign off on the certification that has already happened there. If he can keep MI and PA from sending electors, Biden would still win with just barely 270, PA having 20 and MI having 16, with Biden currently leading with 306.  So if it is just those two, Biden will squeak in, although at this point I am now worrying that indeed Trump is so desperate he may yet try something else.  But he needs a third state, and I do not think it will be Wisconsin, with its good government traditions, despite some bad GOP actors there.  We may still be back to the He who wins Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, wins the White House, but maybe only by a hair against a wildly extra-constitutional coup-like effort.

Barkley Rosser

44 comments:

Sandwichman said...

To paraphrase H. Bruce Franklin, it is easier to imagine the end of democracy in America than to imagine the end of capitalism.

2slugbaits said...

Apparently the Michigan GOP leaders that were invited to the WH issued a statement to the effect that they would not overturn the election results. So that's good news.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

I agree with both of you, Sandwichman and 2slugbaits, at this exisential moment for American democracy.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Apparently, the intricate process of approving
election results in Michigan (if not elsewhere)
is not quite done. The step wherein 4 bureaucrats
(2 Dem, 2 GOP) certify results in each county is
followed by yet another review by another four at
the state level, which is where Trump's attention
now turns.

Attention will soon turn to Pennsylvania, where
presumably something similarly excruciating
will transpire.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump’s election legal strategy is all but doomed, but still could damage American democracy, experts say

via @BostonGlobe - November 20

WASHINGTON — First, President Trump lost the Nov. 3 election.

Then, his lawyers lost in court as they tried to allege fraud and irregularities — over and over and over again.

Now, Trump’s throw-it-all-at-the-wall strategy has apparently morphed into a brazen attempt to use his power as president to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. The effort seems to be aimed as much at fueling unwarranted doubts about election integrity among Trump’s supporters and soothing his ego as it does at actually preserving his presidency.

The audacious endeavor, which yielded a Friday White House meeting with Republican lawmakers from Michigan, appears all but doomed. Still, it is an unprecedented attempt to undermine the will of voters that could leave lasting scars on democracy, according to constitutional experts and former elected officials.

“Trump is like the kid who’s been told he can’t join the basketball game, who grabs the basketball and sticks a knife in it to deflate it,” said Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey. “It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.”

Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 6 million votes and his 232 projected electoral votes are well behind Biden’s 306. But Trump and his allies have claimed that he would have won the election if not for massive voter fraud — although they have been unable to offer a shred of evidence proving that claim.

He has dispatched lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, to fight losing battles in court. On Tuesday, he fired Christopher Krebs, an official with the Department of Homeland Security who oversaw election security and who publicly disputed Trump’s claims that the election was compromised.

In Michigan, which Trump lost by 155,000 votes, he personally called a Republican member of the board of canvassers in Wayne County, which contains Detroit, who on Tuesday initially refused to certify the results there, according to the Detroit Free Press.

And on Thursday, Giuliani and other members of Trump’s legal team gave a surreal press conference about their claims. As dark liquid leaked from his hair, Giuliani presented normal parts of the election process — like fixing mail ballots’ missing signatures — as fraudulent and made odd references to the film “My Cousin Vinny.”

Another member of the team, Sidney Powell, claimed inaccurately that Trump had won by a “landslide.”

And that was before it became clear that legal filings in one of the Trump team’s cases had confused the states of Minnesota and Michigan.

“It’s beyond regrettable, it’s not presidential — it’s un-American,” said Tom Ridge, a Republican and the former governor of Pennsylvania. “He’s questioning and undermining the most basic and valued institution in our country, and that’s the legitimacy of our vote.”

If Trump’s only goal is to sow doubt, he is succeeding: A Monmouth University poll found 77 percent of Trump’s supporters believe Biden won because of fraud.

If he is trying to throw a wrench in the election machinery, success is less assured. States are working to certify their results, a process that each state has to complete by Dec. 8. Then, on Dec. 14, each state’s electors will meet to award their votes to the candidate who won their state.

It is possible that Trump and his allies see some hope for their efforts if they can persuade battleground state Republicans to send the results from competing slates of electors to Washington — something that happened in the chaos of the contested election of 1876. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Here’s a timeline of the presidential certification process that Trump is trying to disrupt

NY Times via @BostonGlobe - November 19

... A key part of the GOP strategy has been to delay certification processes in battleground states that Biden won, in the hopes that, if state officials miss their deadlines, legislators will subvert the popular vote and appoint pro-Trump slates to the Electoral College. But that’s extremely unlikely to happen.

Here’s a breakdown of the certification deadlines and other key dates in battleground states, and what will happen between now and Inauguration Day.

Advertisement


Friday: Georgia (Done, Biden victory certified.) ...

Monday: Michigan, Pennsylvania

Biden won these two states.

Monday is the deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals and send them to Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the commonwealth, who will certify the state results. Pennsylvania doesn’t have a hard deadline for when Boockvar must sign off, but there is no reason to expect a delay.

In Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers has scheduled a meeting Monday to review and certify the results previously certified by canvassing boards in each county. Despite Republican protests over the certification of results in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, the state is expected to certify on time.

Trump has invited Michigan Republican lawmakers to the White House on Friday, and his campaign is openly trying to block the certification process in the hopes of getting Republican state legislators to overrule millions of Michigan voters and appoint a pro-Trump slate to the Electoral College.

Legislators aren’t likely to do that. But even if they did, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, could certify a separate, pro-Biden slate of electors. It would then be up to Congress to choose between the two slates, and election lawyers say federal law would favor the governor’s, including if Congress deadlocked. Congress could also, in theory, toss out Michigan’s electoral votes altogether — in which case Biden would still win the Electoral College.

Tuesday: Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio

This is the certification deadline for Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio, none of which are expected to be contentious. Biden won Minnesota; Trump won North Carolina and Ohio.

Monday, Nov. 30: Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska ...

Tuesday, Dec. 1: Nevada, Wisconsin ...

Tuesday, Dec. 8

This is a key date in the democratic process: If states resolve all disputes and certify their results by Dec. 8, the results should be insulated from further legal challenges, ensuring that states won by Biden will send Biden delegates to the Electoral College.

The certification processes leading up to this date vary from state to state, but the final step is the same everywhere under federal law: The governor of each state must compile the certified results and send them to Congress, along with the names of the state’s Electoral College delegates.

Monday, Dec. 14

Electors will meet on Dec. 14 in their respective states and cast their votes. This vote is, constitutionally, what determines the next president.

Biden has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Many states formally require their electors to vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for, generally the winner of the state’s popular vote. Historically, rogue electors have been few and far between, and have never altered the outcome.

Wednesday, Jan. 6

Congress is ultimately responsible for counting and certifying the votes cast by the Electoral College, and it is scheduled to do so on Jan. 6. ...

Wednesday, Jan. 20

Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

Anonymous said...

The Trump administration will soon be gone, however the administration is very active in ways that are meant to insure policy implementation will be difficult to undo by the Biden administration. This to me is a significant danger.

Anonymous said...

Aside:

Has the Boston Globe properly noticed the sickening and dying in Massachusetts?

November 20, 2020

Coronavirus

Massachusetts

Cases   ( 200,949)
Deaths   ( 10,469)

Deaths per million   ( 1,519)

Anonymous said...

"Here's the deal":

https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1329878933043515392

Joe Biden @JoeBiden

Here's the deal: Because President Trump refuses to concede and is delaying the transition, we have to fund it ourselves and need your help.

If you're able, chip in to help fund the Biden-Harris transition.

Donate to the Biden-Harris Transition
Join us! Contribute today.

secure.actblue.com

3:07 PM · Nov 20, 2020

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Note that the 1876 presidential election
(Rutherford Hayes vs Samuel Tilden) was
settled by Congress. Southern Dems of the
'Reconstruction Era' agreed to vote for
Hayes in turn for Congress ending the
military occupation of the South, and all
efforts toward post-Civil War reconstruction,
ushering in the 'Jim Crow Era' which lasted
another century. (Is that even over?)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

... More Republican lawmakers on Friday also publicly acknowledged Mr. Trump’s loss. Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, referred to Mr. Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris as “president-elect” and “vice-president elect” in an interview on ABC News. Representative Kay Granger, Republican from Texas, said on CNN that she had “great concerns” about Mr. Trump’s efforts to the upend the election, saying, “It’s time to move on.”

And Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee became the most prominent Republican lawmaker to press Mr. Trump to start the transition process, saying on Friday that it looks like Mr. Biden had a “very good chance” of winning. ...

(So have Romney, Murkowski & others, some half-heartedly at best.)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Coronavirus - Boston Globe

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Fred,

Actually the 1876 election was settled by a special extra-constitutional commission that was set up. It may have been set up by Congress, but it was that commission that carried out the negotiations that led to the final outcome where two states that looked like they went to Tilden, the Dem, who was definitely the popular vote leader, were assigned to Hayes, the Republican, who then won the electoral college by one vote, but with the promise of removing Union troops from the South, thus effectively ending Reconstruction and paving the way for the later emergence of the Jim Crow laws and era.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, this is creepy:

https://twitter.com/KamalaHarris/status/1329879694972477440

Kamala Harris @KamalaHarris

Trump’s refusal to concede means that we need to fund the transition ourselves. Will you chip in now to ensure that our country is fully prepared for the transition of power?

I just donated to the Biden-Harris Transition
Join us! Contribute today.
secure.actblue.com

3:10 PM · Nov 20, 2020

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(According to Wikipedia, the 1876
presidential election was settled by)

The Compromise of 1877 was an unwritten deal, informally arranged among U.S. Congressmen, that settled the intensely disputed 1876 presidential election. It resulted in the United States federal government pulling the last troops out of the South, and ending the Reconstruction Era. Through the Compromise, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden on the understanding that Hayes would remove the federal troops whose support was essential for the survival of Republican state governments in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. Under the compromise, Democrats who controlled the House of Representatives allowed the decision of the Electoral Commission to take effect. The outgoing president, Republican Ulysses S. Grant, removed the soldiers from Florida. As president, Hayes removed the remaining troops from South Carolina and Louisiana. As soon as the troops left, many white Republicans also left, and the "Redeemer" Democrats, who already dominated other state governments in the South, took control. The exact terms of the agreement are somewhat contested as the documentation is insufficient.

Black Republicans felt betrayed as they lost power and were subject to discrimination and harassment to suppress their voting. By 1905, nearly all black men were effectively disenfranchised by state legislatures in every Southern state. ...

Sandwichman said...

So, if I understand right, in the 1877 election the Republicans were the "good guys" and the Democrats were the "bad guys." The "bad guys" won the election but then the "good guys" made a deal with the "bad guys" to do their dirty work as long as they could have the trophy prize. So the good guys were really bad guys and the bad guys were really bad guys. And there were no good guys.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

This was ostensibly to avoid a third
term for US Grant, hero of the Civil
War, as far as the 'good guys' were
concerned.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It may also be worth noting that
the only Dem presidents between the
Civil War and the Great Depression
were Andrew Johnson (who was elected
VP alongside Abe Lincoln even the
the former was a Dem & Lincoln was
GOP), Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow
Wilson. Go figure. But the South was
able to end Reconstruction prematurely.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Judge throws out Trump bid to stop Pennsylvania vote certification

AP via @BostonGlobe - November 21

Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that currently show Democrat Joe Biden winning the state by more than 80,000 votes, a federal judge ruled Saturday, dealing President Donald Trump’s campaign another blow in its effort to invalidate the election.

U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, turned down the request for an injunction by President Donald Trump’s campaign, spoiling the incumbent’s hopes of somehow overturning the results of the presidential contest.

Trump had argued that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took different approaches to notifying voters before the election about technical problems with their submitted mail-in ballots.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the seven Biden-majority counties that the campaign sued had argued Trump had previously raised similar claims and lost.

They told Brann the remedy the Trump campaign sought, to throw out millions of votes over alleged isolated issues, was far too extreme, particularly after most of them have been tallied.

“There is no justification on any level for the radical disenfranchisement they seek,” Boockvar’s lawyers wrote in a brief filed Thursday.

The state’s 20 electoral votes would not have been enough on their own to hand Trump a second term. Counties must certify their results to Boockvar by Monday, after which she will make her own certification.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will notify the winning candidate’s electors they should appear to vote in the Capitol on Dec. 14. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Judge Dismisses Trump Lawsuit Seeking to Delay Certification in Pennsylvania

NY Times - November 21

A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed on Saturday night a lawsuit by the Trump campaign that had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state, ending the last major effort to delay the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote results, which is scheduled to take place Monday.

In a scathing order, Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote that Mr. Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to effectively disenfranchise nearly seven million voters, should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in its efforts to essentially nullify the results of Pennsylvania’s election.

But instead, Judge Brann complained, the Trump campaign provided only “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Duty or Party? For Republicans, a Test of Whether to Enable Trump

NY Times - November 21

... “What Trump is doing is creating a road map to destabilization and chaos in future years,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican who served as chairman of the Federal Election Commission in the 1990s. “What he’s saying, explicitly, is if a party doesn’t like the election result they have the right to change it by gaming the system.”

Indeed, on Saturday night, Mr. Trump made his most explicit call yet for state legislatures to intervene with the aim of reversing the result, once again relying on false claims of fraud. “Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s gambit, never realistic to begin with, appears to be growing more futile by the day: Georgia became the first contested state on Friday to certify its vote for Mr. Biden, and the president continues to draw losing rulings from judges who bluntly note his failure to present any evidence of significant fraud or irregularities. On Saturday, in perhaps the most stinging blow, a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign seeking to invalidate ballots, ending Mr. Trump’s last major effort to delay certification of the state’s results.

Some fellow Republicans have started breaking with him, including Senator Mitt Romney, a Trump critic, who said the president was seeking to “subvert the will of the people,” and Senator Marco Rubio, who has acknowledged Mr. Biden is the president-elect.

On Friday, Republican lawmakers in Michigan also made clear, after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House, that they would allow the normal certification process to play out without interfering, a potentially important signal ahead of the certification decision by the state elections board on Monday.

But on Saturday, the national and Michigan state party chairs issued a statement calling on the canvassing board to delay certification beyond its Monday deadline, to conduct an audit. ...

Anonymous said...

Wisonsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin!

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Wisconsin officials: Trump observers obstructing recount

AP - November 21

MILWAUKEE — Election officials in Wisconsin’s largest county accused observers for President Donald Trump on Saturday of seeking to obstruct a recount of the presidential results, in some instances by objecting to every ballot tabulators pulled to count.

Trump requested the recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties, both heavily liberal, in hopes of undoing Democrat Joe Biden’s victory by about 20,600 votes. With no precedent for a recount reversing such a large margin, Trump’s strategy is widely seen as aimed at an eventual court challenge, part of a push in key states to undo his election loss.

A steady stream of Republican complaints in Milwaukee was putting the recount far behind schedule, county clerk George Christenson said. He said many Trump observers were breaking rules by constantly interrupting vote counters with questions and comments.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said. He said some of the Trump observers “clearly don’t know what they are doing.”

Tim Posnanski, a county election commissioner, told his fellow commissioners there appeared to be two Trump representatives at some tables where tabulators were counting ballots, violating rules that call for one observer from each campaign per table. Posnanski said some Trump representatives seemed to be posing as independents.

At one recount table, a Trump observer objected to every ballot that tabulators pulled from a bag simply because they were folded, election officials told the panel.

Posnanski called it “prima facie evidence of bad faith by the Trump campaign.” He added later: “I want to know what is going on and why there continues to be obstruction.”

Joe Voiland, a lawyer speaking to commission members on behalf of the Trump campaign, denied his side was acting in bad faith.

“I want to get to the point of dialing everything down … and not yelling at each other,” Voiland said.

At least one Trump observer was escorted out of the building by sheriff’s deputies Saturday after pushing an election official who had lifted her coat from an observer chair. Another Trump observer was removed Friday for not wearing a face mask properly as required.

Trump paid $3 million, as required by state law, for the partial recount that began Friday and must conclude by Dec. 1.

His team is seeking to disqualify ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted, even though the practice has long been accepted in Wisconsin.

The campaign also alleges thousands of absentee ballots don’t have proper written paperwork, and that some absentee voters improperly declared themselves “indefinitely confined,” a status that allows them to receive a ballot without photo ID. Those challenges were being rejected. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trumpian Internet data detectives outsmart themselves

via @BostonGlobe - November 18

As the Trump campaign offered up dubious anecdotes of election-rigging, Trump-friendly Internet data detectives raised an alarm of their own: allegations of voter fraud based purely on mathematics. One such analysis relied on Benford’s Law, a tool of forensic accounting ordinarily used to identify when records have been fabricated. By scrutinizing precinct-level vote totals in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the amateur data sleuths cited Benford’s Law to report that Biden’s votes seemed fishy whereas Trump’s looked genuine.

Alas, while the idea of employing a method for exposing white-collar financial crimes to catch the Biden campaign supposedly cooking the books has obvious appeal to Trump supporters, the argument is nonsense.

Benford’s Law concerns the first digits of a group of numbers; with the numbers 329, 490, and 1,232, we would focus only on the 3, 4, and 1. Counterintuitively, the law predicts that in many circumstances — business expenses, population sizes, lengths of rivers, incidences of disease — the leading digits 1 through 9 will not occur equally often. Instead, 1 will be the leading digit most frequently, around 30 percent of the time, with 2 the next most frequent (18 percent), and so on. That this distribution is so unexpected is what makes Benford’s Law so valuable. If you were trying to fake some financial figures to look “random” without knowing this fact, a mismatch with Benford’s Law could be a dead giveaway.

Why, exactly, the first digits show up with these same frequencies in different settings is a bit mysterious, but a common feature heralding the arrival of the Benford distribution is exponential growth. Imagine tracking a population of bacteria that doubles every day, so on the first day there was one cell, then two, four, eight, 16, and so on. Any of these numbers starting with a 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 would be followed immediately by a number starting with 1 as a result of the doubling; for example, 512 doubles to 1,024 and 8,192 doubles to 16,384. So it must be that in the overall list there are about as many leading-digit 1s as there are 5s through 9s combined.

Trump supporters claimed to have found that Biden’s vote totals in various places had a suspiciously low number of 1s and 2s as the leading digits. But precinct-level vote totals don’t have the properties that would trigger Benford’s Law. Instead, the numbers are constrained between certain bounds. As mathematicians and political scientists have pointed out, most of the precincts in Chicago, for example, reported between 300 and 700 total votes, of which the Biden-Harris ticket won approximately 82 percent. Their vote counts across precincts therefore contained a perfectly reasonable abundance of leading-digit 3s, 4s, and 5s, and not many 1s. Meanwhile, the 17 percent vote share won by Trump and Pence in Chicago generated more 1s, simply because their numbers were typically less than 200 votes won per precinct. In other words, Benford’s Law doesn’t apply at all here.

By tabulating the distribution of leading digits in order to lob allegations of fraud, Trump supporters succeeded only at finding creative new ways to remind us how badly he lost.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(It appears that the GA 'recount' was
insufficient. Trump has demanded another.)

Why Georgia’s Unscientific Recount ‘Horrified’ Experts

via @thenation - November 20

This week, thousands of Georgians sat at tables in rooms large and small across the state’s 159 counties and counted nearly 5 million paper ballots by hand, in what officials called a statewide audit of the general election outcome. Though the process ended by confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s lead, certified by the state on Friday, expert observers across the nation familiar with the state and its history with election technology looked on, feeling what one described as “horrified.”

These observers included computer scientists, cybersecurity analysts, an adviser to Congress on election integrity, and the statistician who invented the method of auditing elections that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the state was carrying out.

Their reactions to the noble efforts of exhausted election workers were not, they underlined, due to evidence of wrongdoing, or fraud, or challenges to the election’s legitimacy. Their concerns owed to the process being used, what state officials were calling it, and what this could mean for future attempts to build public trust in election results—including on January 5, when voters in Georgia will once again be in the national spotlight, as a special election decides the balance of power in the US Senate.

The series of events leading to the “audit” began with a flurry of attacks leveled at Raffensperger from within the GOP, launched not even a week after Election Day, urging everything from his resignation to a complete hand recount of all ballots from the November 3 election. ...

Georgia came to the idea of conducting risk-limiting audits last year, after US District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the state to overhaul its entire election system because of outdated technology plagued by computing vulnerabilities. The state is one of only a handful that uses the same system statewide, whereas most states use a patchwork of voting methods; in addition, the voting machines then in use did not print out paper ballots. ...

-----

AP - November 21

President Donald Trump’s campaign requested a recount of votes in the Georgia presidential race on Saturday, a day after state officials certified results showing Democrat Joe Biden won the state, as his legal team presses forward with attacks alleging widespread fraud without proof.

Georgia’s results showed Biden beating Trump by 12,670 votes out of about 5 million cast, or 0.25%. State law allows a candidate to request a recount if the margin is less than 0.5%. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp formalized the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors.

The Trump campaign sent a hand-delivered letter to the secretary of state’s office requesting the recount in an election that has been fraught with unfounded accusations of fraud by Trump and his supporters.

A Trump legal team statement said: “Today, the Trump campaign filed a petition for recount in Georgia. We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia State Law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted. President Trump and his campaign continue to insist on an honest recount in Georgia, which has to include signature matching and other vital safeguards.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The NY Times has the results as
306 electoral votes for Biden,
232 for Trump. Since that's
538 votes, all are accounted for.

There are five states where there are close margins:
WI, 10 ev; MI 16 ev; PA, 20 ev; GA, 16; AZ, 11.

Any three of these switched to Trump will get
him at least 38 electoral votes, which
is what he needs to win.

Must be three. Unlikely?

Except WI-GA/MI-AZ, which would make for
a tie, send the final vote to Congress,
where Trump will almost undoubtedly win,
because of the way in which ties are handled.

Anonymous said...

Trump will be gone soon, but we may be missing what is happening now:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-exits-open-skies-treaty-moves-to-discard-observation-planes-11606055371

November 22, 2020

Trump Exits Open Skies Treaty, Moves to Discard Observation Planes
Without specialized aircraft and equipment, Biden administration would have difficult time re-entering post-Cold War pact
By Michael R. Gordon - Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration formally shut the door on the Open Skies treaty Sunday, exiting the agreement while moving to get rid of the U.S. Air Force planes that have been used to carry out the nearly three-decade-old accord.

President Trump had served notice in May that the U.S. would withdraw in six months from the accord, which was intended to reduce the risk of war by allowing Russia and the West to carry out unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories.

Anonymous said...

The Trump administration is trying to lock into place every perverse policy they can. This is truly a perverse presidency, but I fear this may not be as readily countered by the Biden administration as I had hoped.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump announced plans to pull out of the Opwn
Skies agreement with Russia about 6 months ago.

(It involved having Russian planes prowling in
US airspace, which presumably annoys the Trump
base.)

AP - May 26

President Donald Trump last week announced Washington’s intention to pull out of the Open Skies Treaty, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party. Russia denied breaching the pact, which came into force in 2002, and the European Union has urged the U.S. to reconsider.

The accord was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing its more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities. ...

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Yes, pulling out of the Open Skies Agreement is a big deal, and barely noticed amidst all the other wreckage going on.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

One might get the impression that
pulling out is something the Russians
could have requested.

However, it would be likely that spy
satellite technology is quite sufficient
to make up for direct over flights, on both sides.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Business Leaders, Citing Damage to Country, Urge Trump to Begin Transition

NY Times - November 23

Concerned that President Trump’s refusal to accept the election results is hurting the country, more than 100 chief executives plan to ask the administration on Monday to immediately acknowledge Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner and begin the transition to a new administration.

As a way of gaining leverage over the G.O.P., some of the executives have also discussed withholding campaign donations from the two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia unless party leaders agree to push for a presidential transition, according to four people who participated in a conference call Friday in which the notion was discussed. The two runoff elections in Georgia, which will take place in early January, will determine the balance of power in the United States Senate.

In a letter they plan to send Monday, business leaders will demand that Emily W. Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, issue a letter of ascertainment affirming that Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have won the election. Ms. Murphy has so far resisted calls to begin the normal transition planning, which includes providing resources and money to an incoming administration as it prepares to take control.

“Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished,” the executives write in the letter, a draft of which was reviewed by The New York Times. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk.”

Among the business leaders who plan to sign the letter are George H. Walker, the chief executive of the money manager Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to President George W. Bush, and Jon Gray, president of the private-equity firm Blackstone.

The initiative comes as Mr. Trump has refused to acknowledge Mr. Biden as the winner, subverted the nation’s electoral process with unfounded claims of fraud, and put pressure on state Republicans to try to impede certification of the results. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(FWIW.)

NYT: At the urging of New York’s attorney general, business leaders in
New York push for the Trump administration to begin a transfer of power. ...

... New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, was asked to approach business leaders
in her jurisdiction about the possibility of pushing the stalled transition into motion.

“She said they asked her to reach out to the New York business community,” Kathryn
Wylde, the chief executive of the Partnership for New York City...

https://pfnyc.org/partnership-members/

There are about 300 members.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

'Open Skies' related:

China lashes out at US withdrawal from open skies treaty

via @ABC - November 23

BEIJING -- China on Monday lashed out at Washington over its withdrawal from the “Open Skies Treaty” with Russia, saying the move undermined military trust and transparency and imperiled future attempts at arms control.

The treaty, to which China is not a signatory, had allowed each country overflight rights to inspect military facilities. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is now under a microscope

NY Times - November 23

The work of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers ..., with two Republicans and two Democrats, will meet at 1 p.m.

While the winner is clear — Joseph R. Biden Jr. beat President Trump in the state by over 150,000 votes, according to the Michigan Bureau of Elections — Mr. Trump and his Republican allies are trying to upend that reality with baseless claims about discrepancies in the vote tallies, and they are urging the board to refuse to certify the election results.

Election law experts say the certification vote is a strictly ministerial duty that the board members are obligated to fulfill, but political operatives in Michigan are preparing for a possible chain of events in which the two Republicans on the board follow the Trump campaign’s wishes.

A 2-to-2 deadlock, which would prolong Republicans’ unprecedented attempts to overturn this year’s presidential race, would most likely prompt Democrats to ask the state Court of Appeals to order the board to do its constitutional duty and certify the election results. ...

Also, Pennsylvania and Michigan will consider certifying election results today

Despite moves by Republicans to subvert the results of the presidential election, Pennsylvania is scheduled to certify its vote results on Monday, and a board in Michigan is set to consider doing the same. ...

A federal judge dismissed a Trump campaign challenge to Pennsylvania’s results on Saturday, eliminating the last major effort to delay certification there. The campaign and the case’s other plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal on Sunday.

Other key states, including Michigan and Nevada, also have to certify their results. The Board of State Canvassers in Michigan is scheduled to meet on Monday to consider the certification of results that have already been certified by county canvassing boards. The state board is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats. ...

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Fred,

Did you notice that what you posted mentioned the Michigan certification three separate times as new stories?

Regarding 100 CEOs calling for Trump to concede, well, these are just coastal elites under the control of George Soros resisting the Will of the Real American People. Hey! Get with the program!

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It seems that the Michigan certification
is still an on-going story, alas.

The '100 CEOs' story appears to be
intentionally ambiguous.

Related:

What if Trump won’t leave the White House?

via @BostonGlobe - November 23

A hostage negotiator, an animal-control officer, and a toddler whisperer have advice. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump Is Running Out Of Time As Key States Set To Certify That Biden Won

NPR - November 23

... Here's the latest in each state:

Pennsylvania

After a judge said the Trump legal team did not show "factual proof of rampant corruption" and dismissed the Trump campaign's attempts to block certification, the campaign is appealing.

In his opinion dismissing Trump's case — argued by Rudy Giuliani, who struggled in his first appearance in court in decades — Judge Matthew Brann, a Republican, wrote:

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more."

Individual counties must certify their results to the secretary of state by Monday, and then she makes her own certification.

Michigan

WKAR's Abigail Censky reports: At the Michigan Board of State Canvassers meeting on Monday, two Democrats and two Republicans will meet to certify the results of Michigan's election. Unofficial results from all 83 counties have already been certified at the county level.

Despite Republicans' continued alarm bells about election irregularities, lawsuits have been thrown out or withdrawn, and state and local election officials, including a Friday report from the state's Bureau of Elections, prove Michigan's election was secure.

The president has also been applying pressure to state lawmakers to either try and not certify the results or to install electors loyal to Trump. On Thursday, the president summoned senior Republicans in Michigan's state Legislature to the White House.

But those lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, said after the meeting that they see no reason for the outcome not to match the vote — with Biden winning.

"We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan," they said in a joint statement, "and, as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan's electors, just as we have said throughout this election."

Nevada

An attempt to stop Nevada's certification, brought by failed Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, was thrown out Friday.

Angle's group, the Election Integrity Project, claimed that some 1,400 votes cast were done for people who had actually moved to California and registered to vote there, and that about 8,000 ballots were mailed to people who had not voted in a decade, which is against Nevada law.

Biden won the state by more than 33,000 votes.

"The civil remedy of throwing out an election is just a shocking ask," District Court Judge Gloria Sturman told the group's attorney. "You are asking me to throw out 1.4 million votes on the chance that somewhere between 250 and 8,000 people should not have voted."

Fred C. Dobbs said...

What's next?

The following week sees two more key states certify their results: Arizona on Nov. 30 and Wisconsin on Dec. 1. Biden won both states narrowly.

The Trump campaign requested a recount in two heavily Democratic-leaning counties that put Biden over the top in Wisconsin. But election officials in the state are complaining that Trump campaign observers are obstructing and slowing down the recount from actually happening, "in some instances by objecting to every ballot tabulators pulled to count," The Associated Press reports.

States are set to finalize their electors on Dec. 8, then electors will cast votes in state capitols Dec. 14. Those votes will be received by Vice President Pence on Dec. 23, and then Congress tallies them Jan. 6 before Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.

The Trump campaign may try to drag this out as long as possible, filing in many cases frivolous challenges and appeals. But pressure this week will likely only build on those around him to abandon Trump or convince him to give up what appears to be an even more futile fight as the days go on.

---

(Not done with GA yet either...)

Trump Requests Georgia Recount, Meaning 5 Million Votes Will Be Tabulated A 3rd Time

NPR - November 22

Georgia's nearly 5 million votes in the presidential race will be counted for a third time, as President Trump's campaign has formally asked for a recount because his loss is within the legal margin for that request.

Of the 4,998,482 ballots cast in the race between Trump and President-elect Joe Biden, the president lost by 12,670 votes, or about 0.26 percentage points. State law allows a losing candidate within 0.5 percentage points to ask for a recount within two business days of certification.

While thousands of workers spent most of the last week hand-counting every vote as part of a newly required statewide risk-limiting audit, this recount will be different.

The law calls for a recount to be conducted by retabulating every ballot through a scanner, the same way they were originally counted in the days following the Nov. 3 election. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(But of course...)

Trump campaign appeals Pennsylvania mail-in ballots case as state on verge of certifying election results

Newsweek - November 22

Trump's presidential election campaign is appealing a Pennsylvania judge's decision to dismiss its lawsuit challenging the state's ballot counting procedures, with intent to halt its upcoming certification of results.

The appeal, filed Sunday, came about 24 hours after District Court Judge Matthew Brann issued a ruling that tossed out allegations included in the Trump campaign's legal complaint. In his decision, Brann noted that attorneys failed to provide sufficient evidence supporting their insistent claims that misconduct on the part of elections officials gave Joe Biden his projected presidential win. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(That letter - updated.)

Business Leaders, Citing Damage to Country, Urge Trump to Begin Transition

Concerned that President Trump’s refusal to accept the election results is hurting the country, more than 160 top American executives asked the administration on Monday to immediately acknowledge Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration.

Even one of Mr. Trump’s stalwart supporters, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone, the private equity firm, said in a statement that “the outcome is very certain today and the country should move on.” While he did not sign a letter sent to the administration by the other executives, he said he was “now ready to help President-elect Biden and his team.”

Signatories to the letter included the chief executives of Mastercard, Visa, MetLife, Accenture, the Carlyle Group, Condé Nast, McGraw-Hill, WeWork and American International Group, among others. They included some of the most important players in the financial industry: David M. Solomon, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs; Laurence D. Fink, chief executive of the asset management giant BlackRock; Jon Gray, Blackstone’s president; and Henry R. Kravis, a prominent Republican donor who is the co-chief executive of KKR, a private equity firm. ...

164 New York business leaders urge the Trump
Administration to Move Forward with Transition

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Board of Canvassers certifies Michigan’s election results

The Board of State Canvassers certified Michigan’s November general election results in a 3-0-1 vote Monday.

The board, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, met Nov. 23 to make the vote count official after all 83 Michigan counties certified their election results, which include Joe Biden’s 2.8% statewide victory over President Donald Trump. The state certification of the more than 5.5 million ballots cast comes after Trump and his attorneys and supporters persistently called for delaying certification. Board of State Canvasser Norman Shinkle abstained from the vote.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump concedes in all but name as he lets transition to Biden begin

via @MailOnline - November 23

BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump concedes in all but name as he caves and lets
transition to Joe Biden FINALLY begin after Michigan certifies Democrat's
victory in state - but STILL claims he can prevail in doomed legal fight
to overturn election results

Donald Trump took a massive step towards admitting defeat in the election Monday night by saying he was allowing the transition to Joe Biden to begin - but immediately claimed he can still overturn his defeat at the hands of voters.

General Services Administration Chief Emily Murphy told President-elect Biden in a letter that he can start accessing federal resources to begin the presidential transition process early Monday evening.

Murphy released a letter to Biden announcing the move - that dedicated a considerable portion to defending her own reputation and claiming she had been threatened. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump says he’s directing his team to cooperate with Biden officials as GSA allows formal transition to begin

via @BostonGlobe - November 23

WASHINGTON (AP) — The General Services Administration ascertained Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

Administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, citing, “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results.” Michigan certified Biden’s victory Monday, and a federal judge in Pennsylvania tossed a Trump campaign lawsuit on Saturday seeking to prevent certification in that state.

Donald J. Trump ✓ @realDonaldTrump

I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA. Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good...

...fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.