WASHINGTON — The final step in a turmoil-filled 2020 presidential election is set for Wednesday, when Congress will certify election results showing that Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.
But a series of objections from GOP legislators is expected to stretch that routine process into a much lengthier one — and one that is dividing the Republican Party between those who back Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and those who do not. Those claims have failed repeatedly in dozens of lawsuits brought by Trump’s legal team.
At least 12 GOP senators and dozens of House Republicans say they intend to object to the Electoral College results as those votes are read, state by state, in a joint session that begins at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday.
It’s not yet clear exactly how Wednesday’s process will unfold, but Republicans could raise objections to the results from as many as six swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada.
Not all Republican lawmakers have embraced Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. A dozen House Republicans are pushing back, arguing that Congress has a narrow role in elections and that states are responsible for selecting electors to certify votes.
“To take action otherwise — that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process —would amount to stealing power from the people and the states,” lawmakers wrote in a letter, obtained by the publication Punchbowl, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday.
Republicans signing that letter include Ken Buck of Colorado, Ann Wagner of Missouri, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ashley Hinson of Iowa and Pete Meijer of Michigan, among others.
“It would, in effect, replace the electoral college with Congress, and in so doing strengthen the efforts of those on the left who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant,” they wrote.
Raising a formal objection to the Electoral College results requires a written document signed by at least one member of the House and one senator. A recognized objection prompts two hours of debate in each chamber, followed by a vote.
While the process may drag out, possibly even into Thursday, those objections are unlikely to change the outcome, with both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate expected to defeat the challenges.
As that debate plays out inside the Capitol, protests are expected in downtown Washington, where militia groups and members of the extremist group the Proud Boys are already gathering to show support for Trump.
Here’s what Republican members of Congress from Virginia have said about whether they will support certifying the results or will object to that process:
“We’re going to keep fighting. I’m going to fight with Mo Brooks from Alabama,” Good said in a Fox News interview, referring to the congressman leading the charge on challenging the election results. “I’m going to fight with the others in Congress who are going to challenge this. We’re going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted and only legal votes are counted.”
“I am in full support of objecting to electors in order to debate and examine election results in states where constitutional questions have been raised. In fact, in December I joined a majority of my Republican colleagues and Leadership in the House of Representatives in sending an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in reference to Texas v. Pennsylvania, et al. relating to the November general election. Like many of my constituents, I have concerns that several states failed to follow the Constitution in conducting elections and deserve scrutiny to ensure a fair and free election.”
- Rep. Ben Cline
- Rep. Morgan Griffith
Though they don’t have a direct say on Capitol Hill, at least three Republican delegates from Virginia were planning to send a letter Tuesday night asking Vice President Mike Pence to “nullify” Virginia’s 13 Electoral College votes for Biden.
The letter, spearheaded by staunchly conservative Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, made no concrete allegations of fraud, claiming only that Democratic-led changes to Virginia’s voting laws, including the implementation of ballot drop boxes, created an “opportunity.” In an email, LaRock said he planned to send the letter to Pence Tuesday night.
Others signing onto the letter were Dels. Ronnie Campbell, R-Rockbridge, and Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania. Cole played an important role in Virginia’s election policy in the past as a former chairman of the House Privileges and Elections Committee.
LaRock said he circulated his letter for signatures Tuesday afternoon, and felt other Republicans would have joined the effort “given more time.”
Biden beat Trump by more than 450,000 votes in Virginia, according to results certified by the state.
Pence will play a ceremonial role in the certification of Biden’s victory, but fact-checkers say he does not have the power to block or change the result.
Mercury reporter Graham Moomaw contributed to this report.