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Hillary Clinton's Ace-in-the-Hole: Russia

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If Hillary Clinton loses a very tight election her ace-in-the-hole could be Russia.

Corporate media reacted harshly when Donald Trump said in the last debate that he would wait and see what happens before accepting the election results. "I will keep you in suspense," he said. Trump has alleged that the vote will be rigged.

If Trump loses by a razor-thin margin we can expect a demand for recounts and possible legal challenges. Some of his more violent supporters have also threatened trouble.

But what if Clinton loses a close election? In the wake of Wikileaks and FBI revelations Clinton's sizeable lead has evaporated and a tight result is looking more and more possible.

On her campaign plane a few hours after the last debate Clinton was asked if she would pledge to accept the results. She ignored the question and instead launched into an attack on what Trump had said.

If Clinton should lose a squeaker, she has two options to try to overturn the election and make herself president--and both involve blaming Russia. She can try to influence America's bizarre electoral-college system, or get at least two allies in Congress to challenge its certification of the election.

America's Indirect Suffrage

Unknown to most people outside the United States, and to many within, the U.S. president is not chosen by a national popular vote. Instead the U.S. presidential election is really 50 separate state elections. The candidate that wins a state's popular vote is awarded a number of electors based on population size.

These are actual persons who vote for president on behalf of the people. Slates of electors are chosen by both major political parties before the election. Whichever party wins a state's popular vote gets the votes of that state's electors. There are 538 electors and a candidate can must get 270 electoral votes to be elected president. *

This system ignores the national poplar vote so that a candidate may win more votes nationwide but still lose the election. It has happened four times, the last being in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election to George W. Bush.

Several states, such as New York and California, usually vote Democratic, while others, such as many in the West and South, are normally in the Republican column. But there are states that could go either way, so-called swing states, and that's where the most intense campaigning takes place.

According to one scenario, the four electoral votes in Maine could decide this election.

That's why Trump campaigned there last week. Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that proportion some of their electors. One candidate could get one of the four electoral votes if he or she wins a congressional district.

Influencing the College by Blaming Russia

The Clinton camp's accusation after the first Wikileaks revelations, just before the Democratic Convention, that Russian intelligence was behind the leak was later amplified in early October by James Clapper, director of national intelligence, who blamed "Russia's senior-most officials" for intending to "interfere with the U.S. election process" by authorizing the hack of the Democratic National Committee.

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Joe Lauria has been a independent journalist covering international affairs and the Middle East for more than 20 years. A former Wall Street Journal United Nations correspondent, Mr. Lauria has been an investigative reporter for The Sunday Times (more...)
 

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