Prosecutors in multiple states are investigating false Electoral College submissions Legal experts say the illegitimate submissions should motivate Congress to update the Electoral Count Act and "firm up the guardrails" of democracy.

Prosecutors in multiple states are investigating false Electoral College submissions

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In the weeks after the 2020 election, Republicans in seven states that Joe Biden won came together as part of the larger effort by Trump to overturn a democratic election. They signed fake documents falsely claiming that Donald Trump was or might be deserving of their state's Electoral College votes. No doubt the documents were fake. The question is whether the efforts were illegal. Here's NPR's Miles Parks.

MILES PARKS, BYLINE: The groups met all over the country in December 2020. And by the looks of the documents they signed and sent to Washington, you'd think the 2020 election was a landslide in favor of former President Donald Trump. It wasn't, of course, but the Trump campaign coordinated to get competing Electoral College results in place to muddy the certification process. Here's Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn on MSNBC last week.

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BORIS EPSHTEYN: Yes, I was part of the process to make sure there were alternate electors for when, as we hoped, the challenges to the seated electors would be heard and would be successful.

PARKS: There are indications this month that people like Epstein, who were involved in the scheme, could now be facing legal trouble. Some Democrats, like Representative Bennie Thompson, certainly feel as though they should. Thompson chairs Congress' January 6 Committee, which subpoenaed Epshteyn and former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani last week. Thompson spoke with CBS over the weekend.

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BENNIE THOMPSON: We are concerned that documents have been filed saying they were individuals responsible for conducting and certifying elections, and they're not. And when you falsify a document, in most instances, that's a criminal act.

PARKS: Democratic attorneys general in Michigan and New Mexico also say they've referred investigations related to the false electors to federal prosecutors, but it's unlikely anyone sees jail time as a result, says campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg, because laws around how the election gets certified are so vague.

BEN GINSBERG: While what went on was certainly intentionally misleading, the specific statutes are not immediately obvious, as bad as this was.

PARKS: Most importantly, Ginsberg says, the plot should be motivation for Congress to update the laws around election certification, known as the Electoral Count Act, and make a repeat scenario of 2020 less likely. Miles Parks, NPR News, Washington.

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