Could a state legislature claw back from the citizens it represents the right to decide a presidential election? Theoretically, I suppose it could. As the Supreme Court pointed out in Bush v. Gore (2000), the Constitution provides neither an individual right to vote nor a right to have the president elected by popular vote. The power to decide how presidents are elected belongs to state lawmakers.
That said, though, once a state legislature has enacted laws giving that power to the people and prescribing how presidential elections are to be administered, the state — including its legislature — must follow that law. If lawmakers want to change the law they have made, they must repeal it. They may not simply ignore it…
That would be unfathomable. Regardless of partisan control, there would not be majorities willing to carry out such a scheme. Even if we pretend that it could happen, governors in such states would not sign the legislation — certainly not Democratic governors in Pennsylvania and Michigan, but I don’t believe any governor would sign legislation that disenfranchised the people of his or her state.
For the president to float this idea causes great unease in a country that is already deeply divided. There is no upside in it because it is neither legally viable nor politically plausible. He should stop.