In the wake of Donald Trump’s 2020 election interference indictments, some conservatives have drawn parallels to a similar situation during the 1960 election between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in Hawaii.
A Look at the Two Cases
While both cases involve election disputes, they differ in several crucial aspects, including the nature of the disputes, the timing of recounts, and the intentions of the involved parties.
George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin emphasizes that the 1960 Hawaii dispute stemmed from genuine uncertainty, with the margin of victory being within 100 to 200 votes.
No Chance to Overturn
Somin also noted, “The 1960 Hawaii dispute had no chance of overturning the overall election result and was not part of a general scheme to rig or steal the election.”
Trump’s 2020 election indictments center on his alleged plan to replace electors in seven states with his fake electors to cast fake votes for Donald Trump and hopefully win him the Presidency.
The key differences in the cases are the margin of victory, transparency of the elector’s meetings, the intent behind the elector’s actions, and the response from government officials.
Margin of Victory
1960 Hawaii’s election results were genuinely uncertain due to a narrow margin. However, In 2020, the disputed states had much larger margins, making overturning the results highly unlikely.
Transparency of Electors’ Meetings
Hawaii’s electors met openly and transparently in 1960, but In 2020, Trump and his allies allegedly selected electors secretly.
These electors met secretly, voted discreetly, and were instructed not to reveal their actions.
Intent Behind Elector Actions
In the 1960 case, the certificates sent to Congress by electors were intended as a “backstop” to be used after a court-ordered recount determined the rightful victor.
Trump’s alleged fake electors aimed to substitute legitimate electors with fraudulent ones.
Acceptance by Officials
After the recount in 1960, the Governor of Hawaii certified the victory of the Democratic electors who had cast their votes unofficially.
In 2020, Trump and his allies allegedly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to use fake electors and reject legitimate electoral votes, a move Pence refused to participate in.
Marc Scholl, a former prosecutor, said it would be difficult “to convince a jury that there was fraudulent intent by the Democrat electors when it turned out that Kennedy had won and they substituted a correct certificate approved by the Governor of Hawaii.
Fani Willis, the District Attorney, indicted Trump and his allies in Georgia for election interference. When met with the claim that the 1960 Hawaii case serves as a legal precedent, Willis denied the idea.
A Request to Move
Cathleen Latham and David Shafer, two of Trump’s fake electors, recently requested that their cases be moved from state to federal court, citing the 1960s Hawaii case as a legal precedent.
However, Willis says the Hawaii case misses the legal precedent “by a wide margin.”
Willis wrote, “Actions that did not result in prosecution 60 years ago – in a different jurisdiction with different election code and criminal statutes, presided over by different prosecuting agencies, and with differing substantive evidence of criminal intent – provides zero protection.”
In response to this situation, many view it as a more significant problem within the Republican party, with one social media user commenting, “The fascist Republicans know that the cult will believe anything that fits their narrative. If Trump is convicted for his crimes, they will tell the cult he is a Democrat.”
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