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Sunday, May 9, 2021

With $700 million, a group of conservatives could make presidential elections fairer

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For decades, losing presidential nominees have benefited from deep caches of cash that opponents call “zippos” — after the ubiquitous ATM debit card. But what if the $700 million won by Donald J. Trump was turned into something far better?

A group of Republican donors wants to turn his political victory into electoral gold for their own candidates — roughly 20 percent of the Republican Party’s 2020 slate of candidates. The group, Pardons for Pundits, is currently vetting candidates to stand in the last-minute vacancy on the ballot created by the president’s controversial travel ban.

“We’re not trying to replace people,” said Todd Harrison, a member of the group. “But if you’re just trying to move a level of the playing field, then maybe we can find ways to contribute to it.”

When a candidate’s election outcome appears to be determined, any donations received immediately mount to double to about $1 million, Harrison said. Some candidates may simply use the extra cash on advertising or voter data. But one could ask for a second chance, and either earn approval or face potential retribution from state courts. The idea is that in those situations, all it takes is 1 percent of the donated money to produce at least one vote.

“You are validating a vote for someone, and it gets under the skin of the disenfranchised voter who goes out and votes,” Harrison said.

The group turned in 1,200 pages of information from state electoral boards detailing the eligibility of the more than 800 people who filed signatures of intent to run for president in 2020. About a dozen of those petitions came from Virginia, where the highest court ultimately barred Kim Davis, a Rowan County clerk, from standing on the ballot as a major party candidate despite the president’s executive order barring federal agencies from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Trump ultimately prevailed.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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