Small group of Republicans worry Trump's attempted coup could actually hurt them

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They fear it could have the unintended consequence of doing away with the Electoral College.

A small contingent of congressional Republicans are criticizing their GOP colleagues for going along with Donald Trump's attempt to block certification of the 2020 presidential election vote in the Electoral College on Wednesday.

They are against the attempt not because it's anti-democratic or because it's based on lies about voter fraud, but because they fear it could have the unintended consequence of doing away with the Electoral College and making it impossible for Republicans to win a presidential election in the future.

Congress is slated to certify the Electoral College results on Wednesday in a process that in a normal year is pro forma.

Trump is demanding that Republicans object to the results in key states President-elect Joe Biden won in an effort to block Biden from taking office on Jan. 20.

The scheme is going to fail, as the Democratic majority in the House will not vote to overturn Biden's legitimate landslide victory.

But more than 140 Republican lawmakers are expected to follow Trump's lead, citing baseless allegations of voter fraud and empty claims of "serious questions" about the election results.

The few Republicans who have said they will vote to certify the Electoral College count on Jan. 6 say they will do so because they fear blocking the results will help Democrats abolish the Electoral College.

Those lawmakers noted that the Electoral College allows GOP nominees to win the White House without winning the popular vote. Without it, they fear, Republicans won't be able to win the White House.

In a letter published on Sunday, seven GOP House members — Reps. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Tom McClintock of California, and Chip Roy of Texas — wrote, "From a purely partisan perspective, Republican presidential candidates have won the national popular vote only once in the last 32 years. They have therefore depended on the electoral college for nearly all presidential victories in the last generation.

"If we perpetuate the notion that Congress may disregard certified electoral votes — based solely on its own assessment that one or more states mishandled the presidential election — we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory in 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024," they said.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) expressed similar sentiments, issuing a statement that said by not certifying the Electoral College vote, "Congress would imperil the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats could achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect."

Their admission backs up criticism of the Electoral College itself, which opponents say allows Republican nominees to win the White House even if they lose the popular vote by wide margins.

"In 2020, the presidential candidate who won by 7 million votes got 306 Electoral College votes. In 2016, the presidential candidate who lost by 3 million votes got 306 Electoral College votes. This system is broken. We must abolish the Electoral College," Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tweeted.

"The electoral college is anti-democratic and disenfranchises voters in high population states," Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) tweeted. "Every American citizen should have an equal say in the result of our presidential elections. It's past time we abolish this antiquated system."

In the 21st century alone, Republicans have lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College twice.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes, while Republican George W. Bush won the Electoral College. And in 2016, Trump lost to Hillary Clinton nationwide by more than 3 million ballots but won the Electoral College thanks to slim margins of victory in a handful of Rust Belt states.

Abolishing the Electoral College would not be easy. Doing so would likely require an amendment to the Constitution that would need broad bipartisan support.

In a move that shows another way to deal with the Electoral College, some states have joined a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, according to which they would allocate their electors to whichever presidential candidate won the popular vote, regardless of which won the vote in their respective states.

Currently, 16 states have signed onto the pact, amounting to 196 electoral votes. Once enough states have signed on to add up to 270 Electoral College votes — the number needed to win a presidential election — the pact will go into effect.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.