United States Senator Ted Cruz is among 11 Republican legislators who plan to object to the certification of US Electoral College votes next week, one of the final steps before President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is confirmed.
In a statement on Saturday, the senators called for an electoral commission with investigatory power to be created to carry out an “emergency 10-day audit” of US presidential election results in “disputed states”.
“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states … unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed,” the senators said, without specifying which states they were referring to.
The US Congress will vote on January 6 to certify the Electoral College results, capping a lengthy presidential contest that has brought renewed drama to the typically procedural and humdrum process of formalising the results after Election Day.
President Donald Trump still refuses to concede defeat to Biden despite the former vice president’s resounding victory.
Instead, Trump and his allies have continued to falsely claim that widespread fraud marred the elections while seizing on every juncture to attempt to overturn the results – including pressuring allies in Congress to object to the certification of the Electoral College vote.
“An attempt to steal a landslide win. Can’t let it happen!” Trump tweeted on Saturday. Posting a list of the 11 senators, he added: “And after they see the facts, plenty more to come…Our Country will love them for it!”
But the Republican legislators’ last-ditch effort is all but assured to fail.
Both chambers of Congress would need to vote in favour of throwing out a state’s electoral votes for the move to be effective – and the US House of Representatives is controlled by Democrats.
In their statement on Saturday, the Republican senators said after their requested 10-day audit is complete, individual states would then review the findings and “could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed”.
The signatories include James Lankford of Oklahoma and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, as well as four newly elected Republicans who will be entering the Senate this week.
They join Senator Josh Hawley and a raft of 140 Republicans in the House who have already announced plans to object to the certification.
Trump and his allies had previously attempted to overturn results in several key states in a series of recounts and lawsuits. Those pursuits uniformly failed, with electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia casting their official votes on December 14.
The results gave Biden 306 electoral votes, well above the 270-vote threshold needed for victory.
On Friday, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit brought by Representative Louie Gohmert that sought to allow Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the Congressional tally, to declare Trump the victor on January 6.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement on Saturday that legislators have the right to raise their objections.
“The Vice President welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6,” Short said.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent, slammed the Republican legislators for planning to oppose the election certification, saying it was “a sad and tragic day” for the country that they and Trump “are attempting to undermine American democracy and our Constitution”.
“They will not succeed,” Sanders tweeted on Saturday.
It is a sad and tragic day for our country that 140 members of the House of Representatives, 13 senators and a defeated president are attempting to undermine American democracy and our Constitution.
They will not succeed.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 2, 2021
Several Republican senators have also criticised the plans to object to the certification, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warning members of the party against acquiescing to Trump’s demands.
He has reportedly called Wednesday’s vote “the most consequential” of his political career.
The senators’ statement on Saturday did not present any new evidence to support the president’s claims of fraud and voting irregularities, but instead suggested that the allegations themselves had raised enough public doubt in the results to justify an audit.
They claimed the allegations – which have been litigated in state and federal courts, and which the US Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in on – had not been properly resolved.
“By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes,” the senators said, citing a Reuters/Ipsos poll from November 18 that found 67 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of Democrats believed the election was “rigged”.
“A fair and credible audit conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20 would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next president,” they said, citing the day Trump’s term ends.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has urged her colleagues to recognise the election results.
Murkowski said on Saturday that she intends to affirm the Electoral College vote, adding that US courts have heard the allegations and “found nothing to warrant overturning the results”.
My statement regarding the upcoming meeting of Congress to formally count the votes of the Electoral College and certify the 2020 presidential election: pic.twitter.com/Bk8jd21Emr
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 2, 2021
“I urge my colleagues from both parties to recognize this and to join me in maintaining confidence in the Electoral College and our elections so that we ensure we have the continued trust of the American people,” she said in a statement.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote to impeach Trump for seeking help from a foreign government to investigate his political rival, also expressed dismay at his party’s support of the effort to overturn election results.
“I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?” Romney said in a statement.