Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan will not call a special legislative session to overturn the results of the state’s general election. Despite pleas from President Trump, who continues to peddle baseless claims that he lost the Peach State to President-Elect Joe Biden as the result of “voter fraud,” the Republican governor and his lieutenant say there is no legal way to undo the results.
“Not an option”
In a Sunday statement, the two highest-ranking members of Georgia’s state government affirmed that state law does not give them the authority to replace the state popular vote with a vote by the state legislature. While Trump has embraced a fringe interpretation of the US Constitution which allows state legislatures to appoint a slate of electors to the Electoral College, state law in Georgia mandates that the electors go to the winner of the popular vote.
Furthermore, Georgia law only allows for an alternative method of selecting electors in the case that the election doesn’t take place on the date set by federal law. Since the election indeed took place on November 3rd
, the Georgia state government has no legal choice other than to respect the results of the popular vote.
“While we understand four members of the Georgia Senate are requesting the convening of a special session of the General Assembly,” Kemp and Duncan wrote, “Doing this in order to select a separate slate of presidential electors is not an option that is allowed under the state or federal law.”
The statement points to legislation enacted in the 1960s, when the Georgia General Assembly decided that all of the state’s presidential electors must vote for the winner of the statewide popular vote. “Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the Nov. 3rd
election,” wrote Kemp and Duncan, “would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution.”
“Solution trying to find a problem”
Trump and his allies have insisted that the results of the November election, which gave Biden a popular and electoral college victory, are simply the results of “rigging” and “fraud.” But no reputable news
outlet has found any material evidence to prove such allegations. Additionally, the Trump campaign’s attempts to sue their way to victory have also proven futile, with over forty lawsuits being dismissed even by Trump-appointed judges, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
In Georgia, a hand audit and a machine recount have corroborated that Biden indeed won the popular vote by about 12,300 ballots. But Trump has refuted the multiple recounts, and has openly criticized Kemp for not throwing out the election results and convening the legislature to choose Trump-friendly electors instead.
Still, the governor and lieutenant governor, both Republicans who had endorsed Trump, say there is no legal way to undo the election results through legislative means. Appearing on CNN, Lt. Gov. Duncan insisted that they would follow only the legal protocols, even if they are unhappy with the political result.
“The governor and I have spoken often about this and calling the General Assembly back in at this point would be almost along the lines of a solution trying to find a problem,” Duncan said on TV. “And we’re certainly not going to move the goalposts at this point in the election. We are going to continue to follow the letter of the law, which gives us a very clear-cut direction as to how to execute an election.”
In their joint statement, Kemp and Duncan wrote that the judicial system is the “only viable—and quickest—option” to dispute the election. But so far, those attempts by Trump and his allies have been fruitless.