Election 2020: An Open Letter to My Congressional Representative, Tim Walberg of the Michigan 7th District

I just sent text in blockquotes further below to my House representative’s email and requested a response. I’ll post back what I get. My representative is Tim Walberg in Michigan’s 7th District.

What’s the background? We have news reports now that tell us a variety of things.

  • Previously, Trump, Trump administration officials, and various other GOP officials have made statements that they will seek other means to extend Trump’s term in office other than winning the election outright
  • The General Services Administration has refused to ascertain the electoral victory of Joe Biden as president-elect
  • President Trump has refused to concede the election
  • The Trump 2020 campaign continues to undertake litigation in a number of states seeking to delay certification of each state’s election results

What means are there besides winning the presidential election to remain president for another term? There are basically two methods that have been discussed either explicitly or implicitly by Trump and officials supporting Trump. The first is to take the electoral college vote by having states with GOP control of the certification of election results give a slate of electors who will vote for Trump instead of the winner of the popular vote in that state. The 2000 SCOTUS Bush v. Gore decision gives the green light for state officials to do whatever they please in the way of compiling their list of electors. Alternatively, preventing states that do not have GOP control of election results and selection of electors from certifying their results prior to the Electoral College’s vote perhaps could prevent those states from being able to seat their panel of electors and deny those votes to the winner of those states’ elections. Lastly, if failure to certify election results is widespread enough that no candidate reaches 270 votes in the Electoral College vote, the determination of the next president falls to the House of Representatives as a contingent election, and the congressional delegation of each state determines the vote of that state, and a president is selected when a candidate has 26 or more states vote for that candidate. It appears that the GOP will clearly control the delegations of at least 26 states at the time of the Electoral College vote, and if GOP representatives ignore the election results in their state, we could end up with President Trump again for four more years, despite his having lost both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote as determined by the voters in each state.

So I am asking my House representative, Tim Walberg, who is a member of the GOP, to pledge to support the winner certified in our state’s election results, and take action to repudiate any of the schemes by which the choice of the voters would be ignored and have them disenfranchised.

In the case of a contingent election in the House of Representatives, will you pledge to vote only for the winner of the popular vote in the state of Michigan as certified by the Michigan Secretary of State, and also to do your best to sway the entire Michigan state delegation to do so as well?

Will you do your part to refuse to legitimate any plan or scheme to create the conditions for a contingent election that would invalidate the duly reported votes of various states, and thus disenfranchise those voters? Will you pledge to make every effort to counter any plan that involves states certifying neither the state popular vote winner nor the national popular vote winner?

Given that a coordinated attempt to have states either arbitrarily replace electors or to fail to certify their elections is underway, what steps are you taking now to counter this anti-American activity? (See the Forbes article from 2020-09-23, at https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/09/23/report-trump-campaign-actively-discussing-radical-measures-to-bypass-election-results/?sh=47e634bb4800 )

I expect my representative to do his part to counter any attempts to disenfranchise American voters and to personally take the principled course of taking action to support the choice of the voters of the state of Michigan. I would like to see this specifically attested by you as part of your plan in this emerging crisis.

I urge everyone whose representative is in the GOP to likewise pledge to uphold our votes, and to put them on notice concerning what action we expect them to take.

Update 2020-11-10: I have an email response from Rep. Walberg. I will interpolate my comments on that response and wrap raw URLs from it.

November 10, 2020

Dear Mr. Elsberry,

[WRE: The feedback form has the prefix for a name as a required field. My entry was ‘Dr.’]

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about proper voting and ballot processing procedures in Michigan. I appreciate hearing from you.

[WRE: This was not a concern that I expressed. It is, though, a topic that President Trump’s campaign is falsely claiming is a live issue despite having no evidence for it.]

Please know I share your concerns about ensuring a prompt and accurate ballot verification and election process for our November 3 election. Fair elections are the foundation of American democracy and citizens deserve to know that elections are being conducted in a fair and legal manner.

[WRE: And this elaboration is also still not anything I raised as an issue in my email. It is, though, a topic that President Trump’s campaign is falsely claiming is a live issue despite having no evidence for it.]

States and localities have primary jurisdiction over the election process. As such, as your Representative in Congress I do not have direct purview over how the election is conducted or ballots are processed. [WRE: I didn’t claim or even imply that you did.] I would encourage you to report your concerns about proper voting and ballot processing procedures to the Michigan Secretary of State Bureau of Elections at elections@michigan.gov. Additional information is available at:
URL 1 URL 2.

I would also suggest you contact your local election clerk to discuss any concerns you may have about voting practices implemented in your community.Contact information for your election clerk is available at: Clerk URL 1
Clerk URL 2.

[WRE: These issues are not the concern that I raised in my email message. The fact that people are being directed to follow up on pseudo-concerns raised by the Trump campaign is certainly an indication that action of the sort I was discussing is not on Tim Walberg’s agenda.]

Please know I will continue to monitor the situation closely and will remain mindful of your concerns.

[WRE: It is hard to take this sentiment seriously since the response shows no sign of having accurately recognized my concerns in the first place.]

Once again, thank you for contacting me.

Sincerely

Tim Walberg
Member of Congress

Second update 2020-11-10: I sent an email in reply to Tim Walberg.

Dear Rep. Walberg,

I appreciate the prompt reply to my email message.

Unfortunately, in virtually every other respect that response is unsatisfactory and raises more concerns than I had initially. I will try to be clearer in what I am asking for. I am tracking our correspondence via my blog. The relevant post URL is here.

The very highest priority among the questions I sent was that you would pledge to vote for and advocate for the certified winner of the popular vote in the state of Michigan in the case of a contingent election. A contingent election is the condition where the Electoral College either does not or cannot select a president and vice president, and the matter of selecting our next president then becomes a matter for the US House of Representatives. And you are a member of the House of Representatives, from Michigan’s 7th District, and thus in the circumstances I specified, you would be called upon to vote as a member of the Michigan delegation, contributing to the unitary vote Michigan would present in selecting the next president in a contingent election. I am asking you to pledge or attest that your vote, should things progress to a contingent election, will only be for the Michigan statewide winner of the popular vote as certified by our Secretary of State. To be clear, since your reply assumed that I had issues trusting the integrity of the vote and the process of counting and certifying it here in Michigan, I have no such trust issues on that point; the process has been scrupulously overseen by representatives of the major parties and I find little to fault in how this has been conducted. My trust remains weak in the issue where actions of the Trump campaign might, via litigation and other methods (whether one describes them as persuasion or coercion is a moot point) is seeking to carry out their explicitly reported strategy of having states not certify results in time, or present a slate of electors that goes counter to the popular vote in states, in the hopes of either achieving an electoral college win with sufficient substituted electors, or having the choice move on to the House via a contingent election. I expect the Michigan Secretary of State to certify the popular vote winner in good time, and to successfully rebuff any post-election attempts to change the nature of the slate of electors Michigan presents. The Trump campaign plan, as hare-brained as it sounds, has at least a theoretical possibility of coming to fruition via its efforts elsewhere. But it relies upon the members of the House with GOP affiliation, of which you are one, to ignore the expressed will of the people in the form of a state certified popular vote winner and instead choose to vote for a candidate who was not the winner of the state popular vote.

That brings us back to the matter of your plan of who you would vote for should the hopefully unlikely event of a contingent election for president in the House of Representatives actually come to pass. As I said above, I do trust that the Michigan certified result will accurately reflect what Michigan’s voters decided, which means that in the case of a contingent election in the House of Representatives, the sole remaining part of the chain linking what the voters here have ordained from being carried through to the final result would be how you and others of the Michigan delegation vote in that circumstance. I am asking you in particular because I am a constituent of yours. What I asked for originally and am asking you again to state is that you will pledge, in the case that you do vote in a contingent election in the House of Representatives, to only vote for the certified Michigan popular vote winner. This seems clear enough to me, and easy enough to affirm, that given a free choice of candidate to vote for in a contingent election, that you will pledge to vote for the candidate that the voters of Michigan have selected, and not vote for any person who seeks to gain the office of the presidency by means of chicanery and subterfuge that undermine the election process to a far greater degree than any of the fictional faults they posit ever could have. Can you do that for me, a constituent of your district, to show that you are attuned to the principle that the power of governance comes from the people and from no other source?

If you would favor me with an answer on this one point, I would appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Wesley R. Elsberry, Ph.D.

Update 2020-11-11 18:05 EST: I have received no further reply to the email I sent to Tim Walberg. I had used the reply function in the email client. I will send my reply again, but this time through the Walberg House website feedback, the method that got me the first response.

Update 2020-11-16 20:30 EST: I sent another version of the reply via the feedback page at Rep. Walberg’s site. I deleted one block of text about the Trump campaign as superfluous to getting the question of most interest answered.

Dear Rep. Walberg,

I appreciate the prompt reply to my feedback message of 2020-11-09. I did try making a direct reply via email, but in the absence of a response, I fear it was not delivered.

Unfortunately, in virtually every other respect your prior response is unsatisfactory and raises more concerns than I had initially. I will try to be clearer in what I am asking for. I am also tracking our correspondence via my blog. The relevant post URL is http://austringer.net/wp/index.php/2020/11/10/election-2020-an-open-letter-to-my-congressional-representative-tim-walberg-of-the-michigan-7th-district/

The very highest priority among the questions I sent was that you would pledge to vote for and advocate for the certified winner of the popular vote in the state of Michigan in the case of a contingent election. Since your reply did not address your role in a contingent election, I will briefly explain the concept to which I am referring. A contingent election is the condition where the Electoral College either does not or cannot select a president and vice president, and the matter of selecting our next president then becomes a matter for the US House of Representatives. And you are a member of the House of Representatives, from Michigan’s 7th District, and thus in the circumstances I specified, you would be called upon to act, to vote as a member of the Michigan delegation, contributing to the unitary vote Michigan would present in selecting the next president in a contingent election. I am asking you to pledge or attest that your vote, should things progress to a contingent election, will only be for the Michigan statewide winner of the popular vote as certified by our Secretary of State. To be clear, since your reply assumed that I had issues trusting the integrity of the vote and the process of counting and certifying it here in Michigan, I have no such trust issues on that point; the process has been scrupulously overseen by representatives of the major parties and I find little to fault in how this has been conducted. My trust remains weak in the issue where actions of the Trump campaign might, via litigation and other methods (whether one describes them as persuasion or coercion is a moot point) is seeking to carry out their explicitly reported strategy of having states not certify results in time, or present a slate of electors that goes counter to the popular vote in states, in the hopes of either achieving an electoral college win with sufficient substituted electors, or having the choice move on to the House via a contingent election. I expect the Michigan Secretary of State to certify the popular vote winner in good time, and to successfully rebuff any post-election attempts to change the nature of the slate of electors Michigan presents. The Trump campaign plan, as hare-brained as it sounds, has at least a theoretical possibility of coming to fruition via its efforts elsewhere. But it relies upon the members of the House with GOP affiliation, of which you are one, to ignore the expressed will of the people in the form of a state certified popular vote winner and instead choose to vote for a candidate who was not the winner of the state popular vote.

That brings us back to the matter of your plan of who you would vote for should the hopefully unlikely event of a contingent election for president in the House of Representatives actually come to pass. As I said above, I do trust that the Michigan certified result will accurately reflect what Michigan’s voters decided, which means that in the case of a contingent election in the House of Representatives, the sole remaining part of the chain linking what the voters here have ordained from being carried through to the final result would be how you and others of the Michigan delegation vote in that circumstance. I am asking you in particular because I am a constituent of yours. What I asked for originally and am asking you again to state is that you will pledge, in the case that you do vote in a contingent election in the House of Representatives, to only vote for the certified Michigan popular vote winner. This seems clear enough to me, and easy enough to affirm, that given a free choice of candidate to vote for in a contingent election, that you will pledge to vote for the candidate that the voters of Michigan have selected, and not vote for anyone else. Can you do that for me, a constituent of your district, to show that you are attuned to the principle that the power of governance comes from the people and from no other source?

If you would favor me with an answer on this one point, I would appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Wesley R. Elsberry, Ph.D.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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