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Election 2020: The Nightmare Scenario

Palast and Josh Fox discuss the nightmare scenario presented by Article XII of the United States Constitution and ponder the elephant in the room: Do we have strength to challenge what could be a total coup?

Watch the full conversation, first broadcast on The Young Turks on June 4, 2020.


Josh Fox: What I’m extremely worried about is that come November, this coronavirus will not pass. And Trump will use it as a way to, if not canceled the election outright, severely restrict polling places and times and curfews, saying we all have to mail in our ballots. I mean, just the faith that one already has to have that our votes count is extraordinary. Because we know that most of the time it probably doesn’t. But what about the contingencies that are happening now? Do we have strength in any place in this government to challenge what could be a total coup?

Greg Palast: Okay, don’t expect anyone in this government or in this Congress, you protect your own democracy. It’s demos. It’s the people. So, for example, let me give you the nightmare scenario and then let’s figure out how we can wake up from the nightmare. We had an election in 1824 in the United States in which the guy that won the most votes and won the electoral college was not president. How did that happen?

This is where the danger comes in… And this could happen in November. You have a lockdown, some situations provoked where they can call another curfew. There’s a lockdown, you can’t hold the election. So then, say Biden wins in Minnesota or wins in Wisconsin, The Wisconsin state legislature, which has Republican control, says because of the virus and curfew and mayhem in the streets we had to close polling stations, we can’t certify the vote. So you get a few GOP controlled states where they have a GOP legislature, but the public votes for the Democrat, but the Republicans control the legislature and they don’t certify the vote.

This is what happened in Florida. Florida certified Bush as the winner before the count was finished. They sent electors to Washington to vote for Bush. It didn’t matter who won.

Now, here’s what will happen. Article XII of the United States constitution has some bad news in it. If states say we cannot certify our electors and therefore a Democrat is denied the majority of the vote in the electoral college, they never have two votes with the electoral college. There is one. And it doesn’t matter if one person gets every vote, but still falls just short of a majority, then it goes to the House of Representatives. Article XII says if it goes to the House, it’s not by electoral vote. Each state gets one vote. That means South Dakota gets a vote, Wyoming gets a vote, California gets a vote, New York gets a vote, Illinois gets a vote, Mississippi gets a vote. Now, if most people vote Democrat, if most states provide sufficient electoral votes to elect a Democrat, you could still have the House vote to reelect Trump.

Fox: We don’t even think about that.

Palast: You didn’t have until this week. Frankly, it was Tom Hartmann who reminded me of Article XII, history and the danger there. And I said, Thom, really? Come on. Let’s keep it within reason. And then, suddenly, curfews all over the nation… You know, we just saw what happened in Wisconsin, where they said you had to vote, but just as much as they say, you have to vote, they can say you don’t have to vote.

How Trump Stole 2020

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman

Palast is currently working on a new documentary Long Knife, exposing the Koch Brothers' theft of Osage oil, to be released in 2024.

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The only journalist ever arrested in Congress for doing journalism, Josh Fox is the man who made "fracking" a household word as writer/director/narrator of the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning film Gasland. His short videos on climate interruption, Standing Rock, Bernie Sanders and fracking have gone viral and been viewed over 60 million times. Josh is the founder and producing artistic director of the International WOW Company, which has produced over 40 new plays to consistent rave reviews.

He has toured to over 500 American cities to speak to people about climate change and the proliferation of fossil fuel extraction, raising awareness at the grassroots. Josh's other films include the award-winning How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, and AWAKE, a Dream of Standing Rock. He lives in New York City and New Orleans. The Truth Has Changed is his first book.

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