Jill Stein filed a recount petition in Wisconsin a mere 90 minutes before the filing deadline:
An election recount will take place soon in Wisconsin, after former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed a petition Friday with the state’s Election Commission, the first of three states where she has promised to contest the election result.
The move from Stein, who raised millions since her Wednesday announcement that she would seek recounts of Donald Trump’s apparent election victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, came just 90 minutes before Wisconsin’s 5 p.m. Friday deadline to file a petition.She raised millions for the Green Party and that in itself is quite clever. Well played, Ms. Stein!
As of Friday evening, Stein’s campaign reported taking in over $5.25 million in recount-related donations — the most by a third-party candidate in history.But the more brilliant move is the "90 minutes before" part. From what I can tell at this point, Wisconsin will very likely NOT be able to complete the recount before the December 13th deadline:
Wisconsin will almost certainly miss that deadline, since the last recount took more than a month. And that recount was for a state Supreme Court contest where only 1.5 million votes were cast.
If Wisconsin misses the December 19 deadline, the electoral votes may not be counted.
Stein is going to ask for a hand recount, which will slow the process even further.Stein is also petitioning for a recount in Michigan and Pennsylvania. With suitable delays, these states may also miss the December 13th deadline, and if so, in combination with Wisconsin, that alone would deprive Trump of enough electors to directly become President. But even if one or more of the states finishes the recount and convenes a meeting for their electors to cast their ballots according to the recounted vote (which, assuming no shenanigans, will still go for Trump), it may enable enough defecting electors (if any, but I'd be surprised if there aren't any at all) to also deprive Trump of the 270 electoral votes he needs.
In the 2000 Florida recount, the US Supreme Court intervened at the last minute (December 12, 2000):
Because it is evident that any recount seeking to meet the Dec. 12 date will be unconstitutional ... we reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida ordering the recount to proceed ... It is obvious that the recount cannot be conducted in compliance with the requirements of equal protection and due process without substantial additional work.People who are more politically aware than me will have to clarify, but this seemed to me to tell Florida to wrap it up by the deadline (which was the same day as the Court's intervention) and do the best they could by said deadline.
The current Supreme Court could do something similar. However, as you probably remember, at the moment there are only 8 justices and any attempt to decide something could easily be split 4-4 with the Supreme Court doing nothing at all.
So what then? It seems that the House of Representatives would likely decide the Presidency and the Senate would decide the Vice-Presidency. The House and Senate are majority Republican but they don't particularly like Trump. Here's one scenario:
Still if all 3 states fail to make a timely recount and fail to appoint their slate of Trump-Pence electors…then the presidential race will be thrown into the House where each State has one vote. Under Article II and the Twelfth Amendment, Trump has to carry a majority of state delegations (26 of 50). There is a separate quorum requirement: 2/3 of the States (34 of 50) must have one or more members present. Trump can probably meet this bar: 32 of the state delegations in the 115th Congress will have Republican majorities (albeit some are narrow majorities), and 11 other state delegations have 1 or more Republican members. So the Republicans should be able to reach a quorum of 34 States with one or more members present.
However, if all three 3 states fail to make a timely recount and fail to appoint their slate of Trump-Pence electors…then the vice presidential race will be thrown into the Senate. Under Article II and the Twelfth Amendment, Pence will need a majority of the “whole number” of senators. The Republicans have such a majority. But the Twelfth Amendment also has a quorum requirement: “two-thirds of the whole number of Senators.” [2/3 is 67 of 100 senators, assuming all elected Senators are alive and sworn during the proceedings to select a Vice President.] The Republicans cannot meet this bar, at least not absent Democratic participation. By absenting themselves, the Democrats can block the narrow Senate Republican majority from selecting Pence.But even the above scenario is not the most chaotic possibility:
Worst or best case situation…depending on your point of view…the Senate fails to elect a Vice President and the House fails to elect a President. How could the latter happen? Paul Ryan will be in the chair. Ryan might delay the vote or he might allow the vote to be delayed by dilatory opposition motions. If something like that should happen, and if no President and no Vice President are elected by the House and by the Senate, respectively, then the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 kicks in…and the acting presidency will fall to…the Speaker of the House (if he chooses to take it), and if the Speaker fails to take it, then to the Senate President Pro Tempore (“SPPT”) (if he chooses to take it), and if they fail to take it, then to cabinet members. By this time, most (perhaps, all) of President Obama’s cabinet will have already resigned, and so the acting presidency might fall to someone not holding a highly significant cabinet post.
There is now a significant academic literature suggesting that it is unconstitutional for the acting presidency to fall to House and Senate officers, such as the Speaker or SPPT. (I note that I do not share this view which is now commonplace in academia.) Based on this view, should the Speaker or SPPT (as opposed to Donald J. Trump) succeed to the (acting) presidency, it is likely that an outgoing Obama-era cabinet member would sue to displace (as in “replace”) the Speaker or SPPT who is acting as President.So in other words, the next President of the United States might be a janitor (Secretary of Cleaning Services) currently serving in Obama's cabinet. There might be a wee bit of a fight over that! Quite chaotic, no?
In other news, I'm eating more bananas lately... :-)