For this week’s Sunday Writing Prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie we are asked to try our hand at fortune telling. I chose to write what I desperately hope to be a fictional fortune told to my narrator by an animé fortune teller. This prediction of a nightmarish, yet actually possible, worst case scenario is based upon reading this article in The Independent.
“Our future is at stake,” I said. “I need to know what’s going to happen.”
“Sit,” she said. “My stones will show the path.” She tossed the stones on the board. Her brow furrowed. “I’m afraid you’re not going to like this,” she said.
I let out a defeated sigh. “Tell me what you see.”
“Trump will lose the election,” she said.
“That is great news!” I exclaimed.
“But he will remain as president,” she said.
“How is that possible?” I asked, deflated.
“He will cheat and he will lie,” she said. “The Republicans will aggressively pursue a policy of voter suppression in all of the states that they control, which will cause the election to be much closer than anyone thought it could be, but Biden will still win the popular vote and seemingly the Electoral College vote.”
“Seemingly?” I said. “What do you mean by that?”
“Biden will beat Trump in the swing states of Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, but not by significant margins,” she predicted. “Trump will claim that the vote was rigged, will blame mail-in ballots, and Chinese election interference for the loss. Then he will invoke emergency powers to launch a Justice Department investigation into alleged election hacking in the swing states.”
“He won’t get away with it though, will he?” I asked.
She looked at me with a very sad expression. “The investigation that Trump demanded and that Bill Barr will lead is intended to tick down the clock toward December 14, the deadline when each state’s Electoral College electors must be appointed. All four swing states have Republican control of both their upper and lower houses of their state legislatures. Those state legislatures will refuse to allow any Electoral College slate to be certified until Trump’s ‘national security’ investigation is complete.”
“Can they do that?” I asked.
“Theoretically,” she said, “they can and they will. The Democrats will naturally sue in order to certify the appointment of the Biden slate of electors, arguing that Trump has manufactured a national security emergency in order to create FUD, or fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The matter will ultimately wind up at the Supreme Court, where the conservative justices will rule that the December 14 Electoral College deadline must be met and that the president’s national security powers legally authorize him to investigate potential foreign country intrusion into the national election.”
“Yikes,” I said. “Then what happens?”
“If no Electoral College slate can be certified by any state by December 14,the Electoral College must meet anyway and cast its votes. Without the electors from those four states being represented, neither Biden nor Trump will have sufficient votes to get an Electoral College majority.”
“But then it would be up to the House of Representatives, which has a clear Democratic majority, to vote for who wins,” I said.
“The way it would work, according to the Constitution,” she explained, “is that the vote in the House is by state delegation, where each delegation casts one vote as determined by the majority of the representatives in that state. Currently, there are 26 states that have a majority Republican delegation. Only 23 states have a majority Democratic delegation. There is one state, Pennsylvania, that has an evenly split delegation. Even if the Democrats were to pick up seats in Pennsylvania and hold all their 2018 House gains, the Republicans would have a 26 to 24 delegation majority. Thus, Trump would lose the popular vote and not win the Electoral College vote, but would retain the presidency.”
“Oh my God,” I said. “Now I wish I’d never asked.”