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Even Fox manages to talk about them.

Who is Cathy Latham? Former Coffee County (Georgia) GOP chair accused of being a 'fake elector'

ATLANTA - Cathy Latham, former GOP chair for Coffee County and a member of the Georgia Republican Party's executive committee, was indicted along with former President Trump for election interference in Georgia. She is facing 11 charges.

Sixteen individuals, who have come to be known as "fake electors," were initially investigated by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. One of those "fake electors" was Latham.

None of the following clearly indicates how the alleged fraud was supposed to work. I do know about "faithless electors" - an elector who does not vote for the candidates for U.S. President and U.S. Vice President for whom the elector had pledged to vote, and instead votes for another person for one or both offices or abstains from voting. But that concept doesn't seem to apply here.

The list below, taken from the Fox article doesn't have anything specific to "fake elector", but rather generally fraud-type charges.

So what was Cathy Latham allegedly up to? What is the exact scheme she is alleged to have participated in and how was it supposed to work?

LIST OF CHARGES

1 - Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act

8 - Impersonating a public officer

10 - Forgery in the first degree

12 - False statements and writings

14 - Criminal attempt to commit filing false documents

32 - Conspiracy to commit election fraud

33 - Conspiracy to commit election fraud

34 - Conspiracy to commit computer theft

35 - Conspiracy to commit computer trespass

36 - Conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy

37 - Conspiracy to defraud the state

p.s. Just to be clear, I am only asking about fake electors. Discussions about general alleged malfeasance and fraudulent electoral claims, as well as attempts to modify the 2020 electoral results in general, are not something I am asking about. Unless they specifically concern "fake electors".

p.p.s. the reason for all the "alleged" qualifications above is simple: I just want to know what she accused of. If someone explains the charges clearly and concludes with a "but she's not guilty", even without explanations, that's fine by me. However, a "she's guilty/she's not guilty", by themselves, would certainly not be a great answer, in my opinion.

ref: Electors in the US Constitution. Clause 3 Electoral College Count seems to be the most directly relevant bit.

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    politicaldictionary.com/words/fake-electors
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 21:38
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    "... allegations ...are being made in the US media ...". It's worth noting that it's not merely media allegations, but also charges are being brought in court by government lawyers.
    – JonathanZ
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 16:30
  • @JonathanZ It is literally in the first sentence of my quoted article: was indicted along with former President Trump for election interference in Georgia. She is facing 11 charges so I am unsure what your point is. Yes, I could make the title and my initial write up even longer, just so that no one could possibly miss it. How is that useful? Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 20:47

7 Answers 7

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It is suggested that Ms Latham and others conspired to fraudulently send ballots voting for Donald Trump to the Senate. Knowingly sending invalid papers purporting to be valid ballots, is a form of election fraud.

The proper process in Georgia, as in other states, is that the people vote for a "ticket" consisting of Presidential and Vice presidential candidates. The winner of the election (by simple plurality) nominates electors, who are at least duty-bound to vote for the winner in the electoral college. The electors vote by sending ballots to the Senate.

In Georgia, Biden/Harris won, and nominated a slate of electors from the Democratic Party.

The suggestion is that Ms Latham (and others), who were not nominated by the winner of the general election in Georgia, would meet on the same day as the legitimate electors and send "fake ballots" to the Senate, as if they were the nominated electors, and so force Pence and Congress to decide which ballots to accept. It is moreover alleged that Ms Latham did so at the direction of Donald Trump.

If Pence and Congress were holding two sets of ballots, and decided (contrary to common sense) that the ballots for Trump were valid, then Congress could have confirmed Trump as the winner of the electoral college. And that decision would not be subject to review, as it is solely the preserve of Congress to decide which ballots are valid. In fact, of course, Pence didn't take this route, he accepted the ballots voting for Biden/Harris

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    "The winner of the election (by simple plurality) nominates electors": that's not how it works. The electors are nominated before election day. They are chosen as electors by the vote. See law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2020/title-21/chapter-2/article-4 for the relevant portion of the 2020 version of Georgia's election code.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 9:09
  • It's worth noting: The electors don't go to Congress in person. They meet in their own state capitols and send papers to Congress.
    – WBT
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 21:03
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    It should be pointed out that they needed multiple states, not just Gorgia.
    – bharring
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 21:48
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Though the process differs a bit from state to state, generally speaking it works as follows… When citizens cast a vote for president, they are technically casting vote for an elector chosen by that candidate's party. Sometimes this is explicitly stated on the ballot, sometimes it's a mere formality (as in winner-take-all states, where the party that wins state-wide selects all the electors, regardless of whether electors won or lost in specific districts). After the ballots are counted and a presidential winner determined, the winning electors meet to formally cast their votes. This slate of electors commits their votes to an official document, which is certified by the state through the Secretary of State and/or Governor. These certified official documents are then sent to the National Archives so that they can be presented to Congress by the Vice President during the Presidential certification.

The so-called 'fake' electors were those people chosen by the party which (according to the state) lost, and who would have cast their votes for the (according to the state) losing candidate, Trump. To this point, there is nothing problematic or illegal; this slate of potential electors existed before the election. The 'fake' aspect is that these losing electors went on to prepare sets of documents attesting to the votes they wished to cast for the losing candidate. They then tried to submit these documents to the National Archives or directly to Congress, despite the fact that these documents had no official seal or signature from the state government. The documents are literally fakes, and thus the people who signed them came to be known as fake electors because they presented themselves as an officially certified slate when they were not.

The overt justification for these fake documents was that some investigation or court case would reverse the states' official tally, making the losing candidate the winner in the states' eyes. At that point the Secretary of State or Governor would have been obliged to certify the faked documents, making them (and the electors) legitimate. This actually happened in 1960 in Hawaii, where the presidential race was so close and contested that the state certified two competing slates of electors and sent them both to the archives. But that obviously did not happened in these cases, and once the December 8th 'Safe Harbor' deadline has passed any certified, submitted documents must be treated as conclusive, incontestable results; there is no process for 'decertifying' documents after that point. But these 'fake' slates submitted their uncertified documents regardless, leading to the accusations of subversion in which the fake documents would be used to cast the legitimate documents in doubt, potentially allowing Congress to toss out the election entirely and choose the president themselves.

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  • I don't think the fake electors were chosen by the Republican Party in their respective states so much as chosen by Republicans. President Trump’s legal team and other Trump associates instructed Republicans in multiple states to create the false electoral slates and transmit those slates to Congress and the National Archives. They wanted the illusion of legitimacy, but the process for choosing electors by state was not followed. The fake ballots falsely identify the signatories as the “duly elected and qualified” electors, they were not.
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 16:08
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    Also no equivalency with Hawaii's alternate ballots in the 1960 election. Nobody knew who won the Hawaii ballot as the first count favored the Republicans by 126 votes (.003% of electorate). A recount was immediately ordered. Both parties publicly submitted ballots because the recount was not complete by the time the ballots had to be submitted. Neither party claimed malfeasance in 1960. The Dems ultimately won, but the recount could have gone to the Rep. No equivalency to secretly creating fake ballots for an election after 2 recounts and exhausting the legal options.
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 16:24
  • I like your answer. It is short, broad, and informative.
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 16:27
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question: #1

What is the exact scheme Cathy Latham is alleged to have participated in and how was it supposed to work?

That's two questions, taking them in order.

Short Answer:

It’s pretty simple. Cathy Latham who was the chairman for the Republican Party for Coffee County, Georgia at the time, performed four acts which have resulted in her being included in the RICO case.

  • signed the fraudulent alternative voter ballot
  • tampered with voting machines ahead of the special senate election
  • perjured herself when she falsely denied under oath she was present when the Coffee County voting machines were tampered with
  • colluding with other RICO defendants to overturn the will of the Georgia voters

Answer:

  1. Cathy Latham along with 10 other Georgia Republicans or 88 Republican's nationwide signed their names to a fraudulent ballot, stamped with a state seal pledging it was authentic. Then they submitted that ballot to the U.S. Senate to be tallied in the 2020 election.

  2. Cathy Latham was caught on camera breaching the security around Georgia's Coffee County voting machines. On Jan 7th a day after the capitol riots, she lead a team of computer experts (Cyber Ninja's) funded by Sidney Powell and gave them physical access to Georgia voting machines. The team spent 13 hours documenting, copying and changing the software on those Georgia voting machines, prior to the Georgia Senate runoff election without the knowledge of state officials responsible for the elections.

When asked in court if the "visit" had anything to do with the Republican's effort to decertify the yet to be held, Senate runoff election; Misty Hampton an election official who granted Ms Latham and her team access to the machine's plead the fifth.

Cyber Ninjas CEO's voting machine activities in Georgia draw investigation and scrutiny

During Doug Logan's ( Cyber Ninjas CEO) deposition on Nov. 18, 2022, he was asked by an attorney the same question as Hampton. "Do you recall how your report would have been used to decertify the Senate run-off election?" "I don't think I ever knew that," Logan said. "So no, I have no idea."

A court document said, "Sulivan Stricker uploaded the data it collected from Georgia's voting system – including protected software from nearly every component of that system – to a cloud-based ShareFile site and provided login credentials to download the data to individuals identified by Sidney Powell. Anyone with login credentials could access the data. "Mr. Logan uploaded several files, including virtual machine copies of the voting system components and a new version of the EMS server files to the ShareFile site from a location in Florida on Jan. 16, 2021.

  1. Cathy Latham, perjured herself when asked if she attended the voter machine breech she denied she was involved. Unfortunately for her she was clearly shown on the security camera's leading the way. Using her clout as the then Georgia GOP Chairman of Coffee County to gain entry to storage facility.

  2. All of the above were steps in a larger effort to overturn the 2020 election and keep Donald Trump in power. The alternate ballot idea was cooked up by Trump attorneys Kenneth Chesebro, and John Eastman, fellow RICO defendants. The idea of corrupting the Coffee County voter machines prior to the state's Senate runoff was Sidney Powell's idea.

question #2

How was the alternate electors scheme supposed to work?

Short Answer:

It was multiple efforts all building upon each other to create a false defendable argument, which could then be entertained in friendly venue to overturn the 2020 election. Below are some of the efforts.

  1. cast doubt on the veracity of the election
  2. add pressure from violent protestors surrounding the capitol
  3. legislatively delay the certification in the U.S. Senate
  4. trigger six states decertification of their legal ballots
  5. get vice president Pence to recognize the fake ballots
  6. Take the decision out of the hands of the people, force it into the House, or Supreme court where the Republicans held reliable advantages

Answer:

There were 7 different complementary efforts to keep President Trump in power after losing the 2020 election, as detailed by the Jan 6th congressional investigation. The ballots were just 1 part.

The entire narrative of the tainted election was the first part of the plan to overturn the election. This was detailed by presidential advisor Steve Bannon in a discussion with Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui in August of 2020, 3 months before the election.

They called it the Green Bay Sweep, after a famous football play from the 1960's. A play famous because everyone in the stadium watching the game knew it was going to happen an nobody could stop it.

First the conspirators would delay the vote count, citing the fictitious fraud allegations surrounding the election. To do this they needed 1 senator and 1 representative to object. At 1pm Jan 6th, Ted Cruz Senator from Texas and Paul Gosar Representative from Az. Having previously been briefed on the plan they objected. Over 100 Republican Senators and Congressman also briefed on the plan, were set to extend the delay, ideally for days. Each objecting to different state elections based on accusations devoid of evidence, arguments already dismissed by the courts. We know this because Peter Navaro President Trump's advisor and co-RICO defendant wrote a book on it, and also detailed the plan on national TV. We have Navaro saying over 100 GOP congressmen and senators were briefed, we have multiple power points used to brief them, and we know the name of the briefer and his statements corroborating Navaro's account of what was planned.

Green Bay Sweep (politics) the Electoral College vote count would be blocked by repeated challenges to various state's vote counts by Republican members of the House and Senate favorable to Donald Trump.

The objective of delaying the certification of the vote was to provide time for 6 State legislatures controlled by the Republicans to "spontaneously" decertify their elections.

  • Arizona
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Georgia
  • Wisconsin
  • Nevada

That's when the the fake ballots would be used. According to Trump's attorney John Eastman's memo there were two scenarios. Both were contingent on Vice President Mike Pence who presides over tallying the vote in his role as President of the Senate, recognizing the fake ballots.

Eastman memos: First memorandum

Scenario #1

Pence would recognize both set's of electors, claim a false equivalency and not award either side electors from those states. Pence would then say that no candidate had reached 270 votes in the Electoral College. That would throw the election to the House of Representatives, where each state would get one vote. Since Republicans controlled 26 state delegations, a majority could vote for Trump to win the election. Resulting in a constitutional crisis.

Memo shows Trump lawyer’s six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election

Eastman memos: Second memorandum

Scenario #2

Pence, would recognize the alternate electors instead of the actual electors and declare President Trump the outright winner. Then over 100 Republican members of the House and Senate who were previously briefed on the plan, were supposed to rally and defend the fraudulent tally.

The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election This would throw the country into a constitutional crisis necessitating a Supreme Court ruling to resolve. The conspirators with a GOP majority in the court were confident they would prevail there.

What actually happened was when the Jan 6th rioters breached the capital, Vice President Pence citing the violence, blocked further challenges to the vote count. The entire plan was contingent on Vice President Pence's participation or recusing himself.

The alternate ballot was 1 of 7 different complementary strategies utilized by President Trump to stay in power after losing the 2023 election, according to the congressional Jan 6th, investigation.

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To put it in context, the "fake electors" are being charged as basically the 2nd half of the Jan 6th plot.

You may recall the Jan 6th mob were breaking into the capitol to stop the electoral votes for Joe Biden from being counted; and oddly, how there were chants about hanging vice-president Pence -- Trump claimed Pence had the power to shut down the counting, but refused. All-in-all, the idea was to somehow stop Biden from being certified as the next President that day.

Of course, that's pointless without a plan to get Trump certified instead. That plan was for various state reps or GOP members to appoint their own alternate slate of electors. The rationale was to say the elections were rigged, which meant they could ignore the results, which meant state officials could simply pick their own set of electors (and hopefully sympathetic Republican senators would go along with it in a second certification). The charges are pretty much saying "you guys knew this was BS and knew you were impersonating legal electors".

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    Not exactly. (1) Trump didn't claim Pence had the power to shut down the counting, He claimed Pence had the authority to recognize the alternate fake ballots from 7 states, thus overturning the results of the election (2) There were actually 7 complementary plans to overturn the election results not just the Jan 6 riot, and altenrate ballots
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 12:15
  • 2
    @JMS Thanks, but I wanted to write something short-ish and to point, and those seem like details that don't clarify OP's main issue "what's a fake elector?" I mean, poor OP is working from a FOX article! They need the bare-bones. Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 22:10
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    LOL. There's a reason I "worked from a FOX article". Less easy to dismiss by Trump believers than coverage from MSNBC/CNN. 'sides it's actually not a half bad article, given that it actually bothers listing the charges. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 23:06
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The Republican Party, or at least the "Trump faction" within it, repeated a maneuver performed by the Democrats in Hawaii 1960, in Kennedy vs. Nixon. Politico has a good account of the events back then in the light of the Republican repetition 2020.

The idea is that there is a (perceived) strong possibility that, for whatever reasons, the officially certified result in a state is wrong. The certified losing party, believing they have won, prepare their own electors who submit or try to submit their votes to Congress.

In the case of Hawaii 1960, the certified result (which showed that the GOP had won) was indeed overturned by a recount, though long after the deadline to certify the state result had been passed. Nonetheless, the electoral votes for Hawaii were cast again, by the same Democratic electors who had submitted their "alternate" vote when the official certificate still showed a GOP win. This new, reversed result was certified by the governor and re-transmitted to Congress. That second, after-the-deadline-issued Democratic certificate was then used by then-Vice-President Nixon (the role which Pence had in 2020) to elect President Kennedy.

The 1960 Democratic "fake electors" were never prosecuted or charged. That they had been vindicated by the recount surely played a role.

There are three main differences between 1960 and 2020, leading to the current state and federal prosecutions.

The first one is that in 2020, there was no good reason to assume that official results in Georgia were wrong. Recounts and other investigations had come up with no sign of mis-counts, let alone fraud.

The second difference, a result from the first one, is that the official result stood which obviously puts the alternate electors in a weaker spot.

The third one is again a result of the fact that all reasonable doubt had been eliminated. The prosecution charges that:

The individuals organizing and participating in the "fake elector" scheme acted in bad faith.

According to the prosecution, their goal was not to fulfill the will of the voters but to disrupt the orderly, democratic transfer of power and disrupt the working of the government. At their core, the conspiracy and fraud charges against Trump and the individuals involved in the "fake elector scheme" hinge on this intent.

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    I don't think that's accurate, 3 big differences between Hawaii 1960 and 2020. (1) Secrecy, the Hawaii election was super close no one knew who won, so both parties publicly submitted ballots while they figured out who won. (2) Hawaii had not concluded their recount when the ballots were submitted in 1960 so their wasn't a declared winner; which wasn't true in 2020. (3) Neither party suggested any fraud in the 1960 Hawaii dual ballot event.
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 12:05
  • 3
    @JMS (1) Since the 2020 "fake electors" submitted their vote it wasn't secret either, by definition. Do you suggest that the Democratic "fake electors" in 1960 were chosen in cooperation with the Republicans? (I'm really not sure, not a sarcastic question.) (2) I think I said that much (my first difference, "in 2020, there was no good reason to assume that official results in Georgia were wrong" [implying, since it is a difference: as opposed to the 1960 election]). (3) Well, what anybody said is secondary and partly informed by the fact that the 1960 "fake electors" were factually correct. Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 12:26
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    @JMS Re "in 1960 their wasn't a declared winner": Wasn't the GOP victory a certified, official result? What else would constitute a "declared winner"? Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 12:30
  • 4th Difference, the recount awarded the election to the Democrats in the 1960 Hawaii election. So the Democratic ballot ultimately became the official ballot recognized by the Governor of Hawaii as such.
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 12:31
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    No it was done secretly. (1) Then-state GOP chairman David Shafer organized the electors. "Listen. Tell them to go straight to Room 216 to avoid drawing attention to what we are doing." (2)Robert Sinners, the Trump campaign Georgia Election Director asked the electors for their "complete discretion", "At no point should you mention anything to do with Presidential Electors or speak to media." The meeting was only exposed after independent news commentator George Chidi poked his head through the door. He said they told him it was an "education meeting."
    – user47010
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 13:23
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Although the election ballot has a space for Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for VP, a different space for Donald Trump for President and Mike Pence for VP, and other spaces for third parties, marking either of those boxes is actually a vote for one or another slate of electors, typically functionaries or elder statespersons of the party, who have been identified by the parties prior to the election. For example, Bill Clinton was on one of the slates of electors for New York in 2016. The National Archives has a web page on the subject. Contrary to how I interpret some of the previous answers, the Archives states that the slates are chosen prior to the general election. The slate receiving a plurality of votes in the general election become the state's electors. They meet in the state capital on a specific date in December and fill out paperwork indicating their votes for President and VP, state officials certify that this is the state's ballot, the ballot is sent to the National Archives, and it is given to the incumbent Vice President, acting in his role as President of the Senate, on the day designated for counting the electoral votes. The two chambers meet in joint session, the Vice President opens the ballots in front of the members, and a small number of members (maybe 4 in total) are designated to tally the ballots as they are opened.

In some states where the election was close, individuals who were not chosen as electors, at least some of whom were on one of the slates which lost the election, attempted to meet and prepare a ballot for submission to the National Archives. It seems the prosecutor in Georgia intends to argue that preparing this alternate ballot was an act of forgery. The "fake electors" are the individuals who signed their names to the ballot purporting to be the duly chosen electors.

Apparently the prosecution will argue that the action of preparing the alternate or false ballot constitutes impersonating a pubic officer (specifically, impersonating an elector), forgery in the first degree, false statements and writings (specifically the statements and writings on the alternate ballot), and criminal attempt to commit filing false documents (with the National Archives). Some of the other charges are not relevant to your question and relate specifically to unauthorized inspection of the voting machines in Coffee County, Georgia.

How it works

The question also asks how this was supposed to work. One possibility is that the National Archives would accept the false ballot and give it to VP Pence, or the Archives would give both ballots from Georgia to Pence and let him decide which to count.

The ballots are opened in alphabetical order, so the first state that was close was Arizona. In the actual event, Pence announced to the joint session that the National Archives had given him one ballot for Arizona and had told him that it was the only valid ballot. At that point, Republican members (at least one from each chamber) objected to Arizona's ballot, and the two chambers retired to separate sessions to debate the objection.

Then some people started breaking windows of the Capitol building.

I don't think anyone really knows what was supposed to happen at this point. It's generally understood that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol in person. Perhaps he thought the rioters could take over and he could declare himself President for Life. Of course this would be a "Constitutional Crisis."

If there was no riot, it's not clear what was supposed to happen. The objections to the electoral votes still would have been made and Congress could presumably reject electoral votes from some states, but the Democrats who controlled the House were never going to go along with that. While the Republicans technically controlled the Senate (the Senators from Georgia were not yet seated, having been chosen in a runoff the day before), Leader McConnell had indicated he would accept the ballots for Biden/Harris. So the Senate also would not ratify the objection; and even if they did, the objection should fail if the chambers disagree. Or maybe a disagreement between the chambers also would become a "Constitutional Crisis."

If Pence presented the false ballots to Congress as if they were the true ballots, then some Democrats would object (the same way the Republicans did in the actual event), the chambers would separate to debate the objection, and maybe both chambers would vote to sustain the objection. It's not clear what happens next. It's not clear that the chambers can't order the presiding officer to give them the Biden ballots. Perhaps this is another "Constitutional Crisis."

The justification for Pence making a ruling on the validity of the ballots comes from a supposed precedent set in 1960. In that case there was a close election in Hawaii and two sets of votes were submitted. Nixon was the incumbent VP and also the losing Presidential candidate. When the time came to count the votes for Hawaii, Nixon proposed to the joint session that they count the votes for his opponent, Kennedy, and no one objected. But of course no one would contest that, since he was giving the votes to the other side and anyway they weren't decisive. It's a weak precedent.

That is a long way of saying: nobody knows how it was supposed to work. Without support from the Democrats and without unanimous agreement to the scheme by the Republicans (more than 1/4 of the House Republicans did not support the objections), there isn't a plausible way for this to work.

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The other answers go into much more detail and describe how voters don't vote directly for President but instead for electors who then in turn vote for the President, but I seem to see a lack of a concise summary.

Here is one by analogy: In addition to voting for Presidential electors, voters vote for Senators and Representatives in Congress. Those contests have legitimate winners. If I showed up in Washington, D.C. claiming to be the newly elected representative from Alaska and doing the things that Alaska's representative (and only that person) is normally allowed to do (such as voting on the House floor), despite having never even been there let alone been elected as the representative, I would be a "fake representative," even if I believed I was doing so with Alaska's best interests in mind rather than my own.

A person who claims to be an elector of a state and doing the things that only real electors are authorized to do (holding a particular meeting in their own state capitols and sending particular documents claiming to be a state's electoral votes to Congress) when they are not actually an elector of that state can likewise be described as a "fake elector."

As indicated elsewhere, this was intended to give Congress procedural cover to select whatever President they wanted, regardless of the will of the voters. Not enough members of Congress went along with the plan to change the declared winner.

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