Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) announced late Jan. 3 that he would not join efforts to challenge the Electoral College vote during the joint session on Jan. 6.
The Arkansas senator said that although he shares concerns about election irregularities in the 2020 general election, he believes that Congress would be exceeding its own power if it tried to overturn the Electoral College results and set “unwise” precedents.
“Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people, which would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress,” Cotton said in a statement.
He added that attempts to challenge the votes would imperil the Electoral College and give Democrats more reasons to achieve their goal of eliminating the system, which had helped Republicans win the presidency in 2000 and 2016.
Cotton also argued that overturning Electoral College results could also see Democrats push for the federalization of election law.
“Thus, I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on January 6,” Cotton said. “I’m grateful for what the president accomplished over the past four years, which is why I campaigned vigorously for his reelection. But objecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term—it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.”
This comes as a growing group of Republican House members and senators announce their intention to challenge Electoral College votes in several states where election results are disputed over allegations of irregularities and voter fraud. Republicans, in the lead up to Jan. 6, have been picking sides in this last-ditch effort to ensure that allegations of voter fraud are transparently and independently resolved.
Twelve senators have expressed their intent to participate in the efforts, and at least 50 House members have committed to objecting to the contested votes on Jan. 6, according to a tally by The Epoch Times. Meanwhile, at least two dozen lawmakers from both houses of Congress say they will not participate in the efforts.
Lawmakers have defended their move to challenge the electoral college votes, saying it’s Congress’s duty to restore trust in democratic processes.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that since the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up any of the cases related to the 2020 election, Congress now has a responsibility to fill that role.
“We have an independent responsibility to the Constitution. We have an independent obligation to the rule of law,” Cruz also told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Jan. 3.
Cruz is leading a group of 10 senators who are demanding that an electoral commission be established to perform an emergency 10-day audit into voter fraud allegations. He said that his proposal for an electoral commission is moored in the law and supported by historical precedents such as the 1876 presidential election.
The move to object to Electoral College votes was spearheaded by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who previously told The Epoch Times that objections are necessary in order to “protect our election system from fraud and illegal conduct.”
Allegations about election fraud have been repeatedly denied by leading election officials and lawmakers, while critics and members of the media have characterized the claims as “baseless.” So far, a large proportion of cases filed by the Trump campaign and his allies have been thrown out by judges for procedural reasons, including by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, allegations that election rules and safeguards were changed or relaxed by state officials in violation of the U.S. Constitution and state election laws have not been fully scrutinized in state or federal courts. Several cases are currently sitting at the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking the top court’s determination on whether state officials or state courts had exceeded their powers when they modified election rules during the pandemic.
Cotton’s statement comes on the same day a group of seven House Republicans announced that they won’t be objecting to Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.
The group, led by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), said participating in such efforts would amount to “unconstitutionally insert[ing] Congress into the center of the presidential election process,” which would “steal” power from the people and states.
They said Congress had no authority to make value judgments about presidential electors nor the discretion to “disqualify electors based on its own finding that fraud occurred in that state’s election.”
“Congress has one job here: to count electoral votes that have in fact been cast by any state, as designated by those authorized to do so under state law,” the group wrote in a statement.
For objections to succeed during the joint session, they 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 to pass.
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.