Once the Electoral College has met and each state’s election has been licensed, there isn’t any constitutional provision for an “alternate slate” of electors. A bunch of individuals who collect in a room and declare they’re electors, as state-party-backed Republicans did in a number of states on Monday, don’t have any extra authority than if the individuals studying this text determined that they, too, wished to be members of the Electoral College.
So whereas Republicans in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and Michigan adopted the White House’s lead, making or discussing strikes to kind their very own competing slates of pro-Trump electors, it was a theatrical effort with no authorized pathway. Electoral College slates are tied to the winner of the favored vote in every state, and all 5 of these states have licensed their ends in favor of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The most the Republicans might do was declare a symbolic second, saying that the individuals who confirmed up would have been the slates of electors had President Trump received these states. But since he misplaced them, and quite a few state and federal courts have rejected his and his allies’ baseless claims of voting fraud, these teams don’t have any precise significance.
Mr. Trump’s supporters have additionally seized upon some superficial murkiness within the Constitution and federal legislation as as to whether a state legislature might appoint its personal slate of electors.
Since the Electoral Count Act was enacted in 1887, a scenario akin to “dueling electors” has occurred solely as soon as, when Hawaii was in the throes of a close recount in 1960. The governor of Hawaii signed off on a Republican slate of electors for Richard M. Nixon before the recount was completed; when it was finished and showed John F. Kennedy ahead, the governor had to send a new Democratic slate to Congress. The Democratic slate was accepted.
The Constitution stipulates that states select their electors “in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” In modern times the states have done that by holding popular elections that determine to whom their electors will be pledged. Various constitutionally enshrined rights and laws would preclude state legislatures from changing the rules and nullifying the popular will after the fact in pursuit of a different outcome.
Regardless, no state legislatures have seriously explored overturning the results, despite Mr. Trump’s entreaties to state Republican leaders.
It is up to Congress to accept the Electoral College results, which will happen on Jan. 6. Even if a state legislature were to send to Congress ballots from its own appointed slate of electors, many legal scholars have said that Congress would have to give preference to the slate sent by the governor.
In any event, both chambers would have to agree to block the pro-Biden electors. It is inconceivable that the Democrats who control the House of Representatives would consider any such move by Republicans.
While some Trump loyalists in the House, like Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, have claimed that they will try to challenge the results, many Republican senators conceded on Monday that Mr. Biden had been affirmed as the president-elect. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, appeared to close off any possibility that he would give much berth to a challenge when he congratulated Mr. Biden from the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.