by Christen Smith
House Republican lawmakers circulated a cosponsorship memo Friday that would appoint new electors if a pending Supreme Court legal challenge requires them to do so.
The move comes after GOP leaders in both chambers insisted the state constitution prevents them from choosing electors that defy the certified popular vote.
Some 31 Republican representatives signed the resolution that reads, in part, “Having a vehicle for appointing electors positioned now will allow the General Assembly to move as quickly as possible.”
The resolution comes as the nation awaits a development on Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit that alleges elections in the Keystone State and three others – Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin – “violated both the Electors Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
“While state legislatures can exercise this plenary power under the US Constitution at any time, we intend to employ it in response to significant activities contravening, frustrating, and substantially modifying the Pennsylvania Election Code which tainted and doomed the appointment process in its entirety,” the memo reads. “We also foresee the possibility of being ordered to appoint these electors by the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The case, dubbed the “big one” by President Donald Trump, stands as one of the last surviving legal challenges designed to overturn the results of the election. Former Vice President Joe Biden expects to receive 306 electoral votes when the electoral college convenes Monday, including 20 from Pennsylvania.
Republican leaders said they’d honor the certified vote and can’t appoint new electors without a change in state law – a long shot that likely wouldn’t go into effect until the next election anyway.
“We cannot take steps to appoint electors for this election given these provisions in the Election Code,” Republicans leaders from the House and Senate said in a joint statement last week. “Doing so would violate our Election Code and Constitution, particularly a provision that prohibits us from changing the rules for election contests of the President after the election. … Make no mistake, this should not be misconstrued to suggest we will allow the issues presented with the 2020 General Election to evade complete legislative review and action.”
Gov. Tom Wolf said on Twitter Friday that Republicans tied to the Texas lawsuit need to “accept reality and move on.”
“Pennsylvania had a fair and secure election free of intervention, and our commonwealth will not tolerate these senseless attempts to silence the voices of millions of Pennsylvanians,” he said.
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Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.