Alabama (MBS News) – Former U.S. Senator Doug Jones from Alabama, along with two other former legislators, cautioned the centrist organization No Labels about the potential constitutional crisis their presidential campaign initiative might incite.
Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, alongside John Danforth, a former Republican Senator, and Richard Gephardt, a previous Democratic Speaker of the House from Missouri, highlighted the risks of a No Labels presidential ticket leading to a ‘contingent election’ in a letter to No Labels, a detail Axios revealed upon obtaining the correspondence.
A contingent election occurs if no presidential candidate secures 270 electoral votes, delegating the choice of president to the House of Representatives, which then selects from the top three candidates based on electoral college votes.
Jones, Danforth, and Gephardt pointed out that since the Constitution does not specify the procedures for a contingent election, the party holding a slim majority in the House as the 119th Congress commences could easily implement biased rules favoring their preferred candidate, disregarding the voters’ evident choice.
“A contingent election would be calamitous,” they added.
Jones expounded on the scenario in a CNN editorial published in October.
He highlighted the potential for manipulation and misconduct due to the vague guidelines governing the conduct of a contingent election. “This situation invites strategic exploitation and misuse,” he explained, concerning the ambiguous rules surrounding a contingent election. “Irrespective of the party in power within the House, congressional leaders will be subjected to intense pressure to skew the proceedings to sway the result. As demonstrated in the recent vote for House Speaker, a select few members could effectively hold veto authority over the process. In such circumstances, they could potentially block a presidential vote entirely, barring the opposing party from assuming office.”
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The former senator from Alabama criticized No Labels, established in 2010 and aiming to launch a unity ticket in 2024, for considering a contingent election as a viable route to power, overlooking the potential catastrophic consequences for democracy.
Jones emphasized, based on lessons from the previous presidential election and subsequent events, that the stability of democracy should never be assumed. He pointed out the current dysfunction in the House as evidence that its members frequently struggle with basic governance tasks. With all indicators signaling caution, he warned against complacency in facing this impending crisis.
He acknowledged that there are numerous scenarios for a new president to assume office. However, he stressed that it is crucial, particularly for No Labels, to understand that not all these scenarios preserve the integrity of our democracy.