In the words of Bones McCoy in Star Trek III: “How can you get a permit to do a damned illegal thing?” Despite public castigation by Donald Trump and demands from four state senators, both Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced late last night that they would not call a special session to choose new presidential electors. Under both state and federal law, they explain, the legislature can’t pick new electors anyway:
“While we understand four members of the Georgia Senate are requesting the convening of a special session of the General Assembly, doing this in order to select a separate slate of presidential electors is not an option that is allowed under state or federal law.
“State law is clear: the legislature could only direct an alternative method for choosing presidential electors if the election was not able to be held on the date set by federal law. In the 1960s, the General Assembly decided that Georgia’s presidential electors will be determined by the winner of the state’s popular vote. Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the November 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution.
“The judicial system remains the only viable – and quickest – option in disputing the results of the November 3rd election in Georgia.”
The Associated Press pointed out that Kemp and Duncan can’t technically stop a special session from taking place. In Georgia, the legislature can call one on its own, but that requires a supermajority — and right now, only four members are on the record as wanting one:
State lawmakers could call a special session on their own, but only if 60% of members in both houses of the General Assembly demanded a session in writing. That’s unlikely, especially because more than 40% of the current members of the state House are Democrats.
On Saturday, four Republican state senators including William Ligon of Brunswick, Greg Dolezal of Cumming, Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and Burt Jones of Jackson launched a written petition trying to collect the signatures to force a special session. All four attended Trump’s rally Saturday in Valdosta.
“I don’t believe that there’s the will in the General Assembly for a special session,” Raffensperger said. He said if lawmakers went ahead “they would be then nullifying the will of the people.”
The fact that only four members of the legislature want a special session underscores Raffensperger’s point. Notably, it’s only the four that showed up to the rally, too. For all of the heat and bluster around Trump’s allegations about the election, the Republican-controlled legislature has been remarkably equanimous about the controversy. Perhaps that’s because they, like Kemp, have watched the process up close and paid attention to the implications of the hand recount’s corroboration of Election Night results. Most of them might be keeping their mouths shut — an option that Kemp and to a lesser extent Duncan don’t have — but most of them aren’t protesting the outcome either.
Thanks to state and federal law, they don’t have to participate in Trump’s public-relations campaign, either. The proper venue is, as Kemp and Duncan point out, the judiciary. If the campaign has specific evidence of specific fraud on a scale which calls the election into question, that’s the venue to present it. So far, the campaign and its allies have only presented conjecture and ambiguous arguments around easily explained videos which don’t prove fraud on any scale. When that changes, so will the outcomes — but so far, despite dozens of presentations in various states, it hasn’t changed yet.