Vice President Mike Pence said he welcomes efforts by lawmakers to challenge Electoral College results in the upcoming congressional joint session on Jan. 6, when the votes are formally counted, according to a new statement.
Chief of staff to the vice president Marc Short issued the statement to reporters on Saturday saying that Pence, who will be presiding over the Jan. 6 session as president of the senate, is open to considering planned objections by Republican House members and senators to Electoral College votes cast for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Short added that the vice president also welcomes efforts by lawmakers to present evidence of election irregularities and voter fraud before Congress during that session.
"Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election," Short said in the statement sent to media outlets.
The allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election "exceed any in our lifetimes," they said, adding that this "deep distrust" of U.S. democratic processes "will not magically disappear" and "should concern us all," whether or not elected officials or journalist believe the allegations.
They added that they intend to object to the votes unless and until the emergency 10-day audit is completed.
The group includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). Meanwhile, Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also plan on joining. They’ll be sworn in on Sunday, several days before the joint session.
Their announcement means 12 senators intend to object to the contested electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) earlier this week was the first senator to announce his plans to object. Forty-five House members plan on objecting to electoral votes, according to a tally by The Epoch Times.
Objections during the joint session must be made in writing by at least one House member and one senator. If the objection for any state meets this requirement, the joint session pauses and each house withdraws to its own chamber to debate the question for a maximum of two hours. The House and the Senate then vote separately to accept or reject the objection, which requires a majority vote from both chambers.
If both candidates receive less than 270 electoral votes on Jan. 6, then a contingent election is triggered in which each state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, while the vice president is decided by a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Democrats and several Republican senators have opposed the plans to challenge the electoral college results. Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) issued statements on Saturday to reaffirm their support that they would back the electoral college votes that were cast for Biden.
Similarly, Senate Democrats rebuked efforts by their Republican colleagues.
The Republican senators acknowledged in their statement on Saturday that they expect Democrats and a few Republicans to vote against them but added that "support for election integrity should not be a partisan issue."
"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. We owe that to the People," the Republican senators said.