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What are Fake Electors?

Fake electors refer to individuals who falsely claim or represent themselves as official electors in a presidential election.

These individuals might attempt to submit unauthorized or counterfeit electoral votes on behalf of a state in the U.S. Presidential election.

Understanding fake electors requires a glimpse into the U.S. electoral system and the circumstances in which this phenomenon can occur.

Fake Electors in the 2020 Election

At the most basic level, fake electors refer to individuals who claim to be members of the Electoral College representing a particular state but have not been officially selected or recognized by their state’s certifying authority.

In the context of the 2020 election, it emerged when certain individuals from states that had been officially called for then-candidate Joe Biden sent competing, unofficial slates of electoral votes for then-President Donald Trump.

These unofficial submissions, while bearing no legal weight or significance in the official count of the Electoral College, were used as part of a broader strategy to challenge the legitimacy of the election results.

By presenting these alternative slates, supporters of President Trump hoped to sow doubt about the official results and potentially provide a basis for Congress or other bodies to contest or overturn the election outcome.

Historical Precedence

The idea of rival slates of electors isn’t entirely new.

Historically, there have been instances where disputes over election results in certain states led to the submission of multiple slates of electors.

One of the most notable instances was during the 1876 election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, where several states sent competing slates of electors due to disputes over election results.

This resulted in the Compromise of 1877, where Hayes was awarded the presidency in exchange for the end of Reconstruction.

However, the circumstances in 2020 were notably different.

The states in question had clear vote totals certified by their respective state governments, and the fake electors were not part of an official process or recognized dispute.

Implications for Democracy

The phenomenon of fake electors is concerning for several reasons:

Undermining Trust: Submitting fake electors, even when they bear no legal weight, can erode public trust in the democratic process. If large portions of the population believe that there’s a valid dispute when there isn’t, it creates an environment ripe for misinformation and manipulation.

Potential for Future Disputes: The 2020 instance sets a worrying precedent. Future elections could see more instances of fake elector submissions as a tactic to contest results, creating chaos and potentially leading to drawn-out disputes and legal battles.

Questioning Legitimacy: Democracy hinges on the losers of an election recognizing and accepting the legitimacy of the winners. By introducing unofficial and unrecognized elector slates, it threatens this foundational principle.

The Bottom Line

The emergence of fake electors in 2020 was emblematic of the heightened political tensions and divisions within the United States. While the Electoral College system itself is a complex and often misunderstood mechanism, the addition of unofficial elector slates further complicates the narrative and threatens to undermine public trust in elections.

As with many aspects of the electoral process, it’s essential for the public to be educated and informed. Recognizing the difference between officially certified electors and fake ones is crucial. Moreover, steps should be considered to ensure that tactics like these, which can cause confusion and distrust, are addressed legally and politically to preserve the integrity of the democratic process.

In an era where misinformation can spread rapidly, maintaining trust in democratic institutions is paramount. Addressing the phenomenon of fake electors is just one aspect of this broader challenge.