Sorry But Alleged Russian Influence in Presidential Election Won’t Lead to a ‘Do-Over’
By now, you have likely heard about the article published on Friday in the Washington Post that basically drove the news cycle for the last 48 hours, plus. At the heart of the article were claims from anonymous CIA sources that reportedly said, “The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.”
This single report set off a flurry of coverage, analysis, tweets, etc., about what it all means and the responses were all across the spectrum including calls for a “do-over” election. But, as you will see, experts say, based on what we know so far, the likelihood of that happening is close to zero.
Political consultant (formerly affiliated with the Clinton Foundation), blogger and activist Peter Daou seemed to have set the stage for all of this by sending out a tweet just after midnight for someone to call for a new election in light of the WaPo story.
Who will be the first to call for a #newelection? This time without outside intervention.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) December 10, 2016
The former CIA officer turned CNN pundit Bob Baer was the first prominent public figure to answer that call. As LawNewz.com reported earlier Sunday, during an interview this weekend when discussing the WaPo article, Baer basically suggested it might be proper to consider an election redo — or a do-over.
When pressed by the host to clarify whether he was calling for a new election, Baer’s response was unequivocal.
“When a foreign country interferes in your election and the outcome is in doubt, and the legitimacy of the government [is in doubt]. I don’t know how it would work constitutionally, I’m not a lawyer, but I’m deeply disturbed by the fact that the Russians interfered, and I would like to see the evidence, because if the evidence is there, I don’t see any other way than to vote again as an American citizen,” Baer said.
And as promised in the previous article, LawNewz.com reached out to some experts in constitutional law and election law and asked them to weigh in on Baer’s “new election” suggestion. Bottom line: they think it’s probably an absurd claim.
University of California-Irvine School of Law Professor Rick Hasen, a recognized expert in election law, tells LawNewz.com Baer’s suggestion basically has no chance of going anywhere, based on what we know now.
“It is very rare for courts to declare a revote, and these do not look like the circumstances where courts would declare one,” Hasen said in a statement to LawNewz.com. “I have never seen anyone try to redo an election based upon the release of information which influenced voters.”
He then explained, “If there were evidence that the Russians or someone else interfered with either the voting itself or with the vote counting, then that could be a conceivable basis for a remedy.
“But there has been no evidence we have seen of either taking place.”
Law Professor John Banzhaf opined that the Constitution likely does not allow for this proposed do-over.
“Any reasonable reading of Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution – which provides in considerable detail for the election of the president – would strongly suggest that, once Congress has determined “the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes,” that Congress cannot then, based upon a simple majority vote, provide for a do-over second election,” Banzhaf said.
Banzhaf agreed with Prof. Hasen’s position, saying the circumstances alleged in the WaPo article seemingly do not justify the extraordinary remedy of a second election.
He then suggested thinking back to the Iran Hostage Crisis during the Reagan — Carter election in 1980 as a clear example of a foreign power acting to influence the outcome of the 1980 election. Even in that most extreme circumstance that almost certainly influenced voters, the appropriate response was not a do-over.
At the end of the day, both experts seemed to agree that additional evidence would need to be put forward that proves the Russians actually infiltrated voting machines or altered the vote count before any talk of an election do-over should be seriously entertained in a court of law.
[image via frederic legrand comeo/shutterstock]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.