US: More Republicans say they will object to election results

FILE PHOTO - The U.S. Capitol dome is seen at night in Washington, U.S., December 17, 2020. REUTERS-Erin Scott

Eleven US senators including Ted Cruz say they will object to vote result certification unless a new audit is launched.

United States Senator Ted Cruz is among 11 Republican lawmakers that 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 on January 6 will vote 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.

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But the Republican lawmakers’ 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.

Failed attempts

The president 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.

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Meanwhile, several Republican senators have criticised 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 as well as in the Supreme Court – 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.

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