Could Bernie Sanders still be president?
A small but dedicated group of Sanders followers have been pushing a plan to encourage write-in votes for the Vermont Senator, with plans to steal just enough support to slip him into the White House. Though the plan may have originated from the small remaining sliver of “Bernie or Bust” supporters, it has now started to get some national attention.
Alex Garofalo of the International Business Times laid out exactly how the plan to elect Bernie Sanders might work. He noted that nine states prohibit write-in candidates — Hawaii, Nevada, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Another 34 states require candidates to file paperwork to be eligible for write-in votes.
That leaves a handful of states where the Bernie Sanders write-in campaign could work, his report (via Raw Story) noted.
But Sanders could steal some states. Seven states do not require any pre-registration for write-in candidates. Voters in New Jersey, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Iowa, Oregon and the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania can cast their vote for Sanders, or anyone else, and make it count.
That alone would not be enough to elect Bernie Sanders to the presidency. The total electoral votes from these states is below the 270 threshold needed to take the White House, but those pushing the Sanders write-in campaign have their focus elsewhere. Many have pushed a plan for Sanders to win in just one state, with Vermont as the main target. The next step would be somehow denying both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump of reaching 270 electoral votes — a tall task now that Clinton has moved into a massive lead over Trump in the electoral college map.
If the plan could somehow work, it would be up to Congress to vote on the next president, with each state voting as a whole on the candidates receiving electoral votes. This could — in theory — allow them to pick Bernie Sanders over both Clinton and Trump.
The Sanders write-in plans have been popular with the most fervent “Bernie or Bust” supporters, many of whom have been angry about the perceived slights against Sanders revealed in emails from her campaign released by WikiLeaks.
But the write-in campaign for Bernie Sanders would have some very obvious flaws. A main one is Bernie Sanders himself. The Vermont Senator has thrown his full support behind Hillary Clinton in the months since leaving the race, and has even been hitting the campaign trail to build enthusiasm for the Democratic Party’s candidate.
And Hillary Clinton’s large and growing lead against Donald Trump in the electoral college landscape could have Bernie Sanders in line for a big role after her victory. The collapse of Trump’s campaign after the release of the now-infamous Access Hollywood video has put the Senate in play for Democrats.
As House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to warn Republicans, that would make Bernie Sanders a very powerful man.
“If we keep control of the Senate in the Republican hands … a nice guy named Mike Enzi from Wyoming is the Senate budget chair and he helps us get these budgets to the president’s desk, gets these tax bills through,” Ryan said (via Roll Call). “If we lose the Senate, do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee? A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”
Aside from the technical flaws in the plan to use a write-in campaign to make Bernie Sanders the next president, there could be a more logical one — House Republicans would never choose Sanders. As Ryan’s warning showed, his far-left views have not gone over well with his Congressional peers on the right, even though Sanders himself has a reputation for working across the aisle.
For another, it’s likely that the campaign to elect Bernie Sanders with a write-in campaign would not go over well with the general public. If tens of millions of voters cast ballots for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, most would not accept the legitimacy of Sanders being floated to the White House on the strength of a few thousand dedicated voters.
[Featured Image by Natalie Behring/Getty Images]