January 4, 2021

Electoral College Challenge

“U.S. Senator Ted Cruz [R-TX] on Saturday said he will spearhead a drive by nearly a dozen Republican senators to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory when Electoral College results are tallied in Congress on Jan. 6.” Reuters

Last Wednesday, “U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced he will object during the Electoral College certification process. Senator Hawley will object to highlight the failure of some states, including notably Pennsylvania, to follow their own election laws as well as the unprecedented interference of Big Tech monopolies in the election. He will call for Congress to launch a full investigation of potential fraud and election irregularities and enact election integrity measures.” Senate.gov

Read our prior coverage of challenges to the election results. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of efforts to challenge the electoral votes.

Regarding Hawley’s statement about Pennsylvania, “One will notice, first, that there’s no allegation that those votes don’t accurately reflect the will of Pennsylvania voters, simply that maybe they were cast following a change to the law that Hawley suggests was invalid…

“But Hawley’s presentation of what happened with the law is also misleading and inaccurate. He claims that a law passed ‘last year,’ titled Act 77, was put into effect for the November election, suggesting some murky attempt to reshape the electorate…

“But, in fact, the legislation expanding mail-in balloting was passed in October 2019 — largely thanks to Republican votes — and signed into law that same month. It went into effect immediately, but there weren’t any elections to which it applied until the 2020 primaries. Among the changes was an implementation of no-excuse mail-in voting, something that was used in the state’s June primaries without issue. But, then, Trump won that contest.”
Philip Bump, Washington Post

More broadly, “The ‘irregularities’ [the Republican senators] cite have been litigated at length, in Pennsylvania and every other battleground state in the country. In the two months since Election Day, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have filed, and lost, at least 60 election-related lawsuits, at all levels of the state and federal court systems, alleging voter fraud and other improprieties, and they have failed to prove their case at every turn…

“What’s more, recounts in battleground states like Georgia and Wisconsin — both won by Biden — have turned up no evidence of large-scale fraud or irregularities that could have affected the results of the election. And in all 50 states and Washington, DC, the election results have been carefully reviewed by state officials and certified as accurate.”
Cameron Peters, Vox

“In their statement, the Republican senators and senators-elect allege that ‘by any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.’ But they fail to cite any evidence that would support any contention that there was any problem with the election. Instead, they simply note that polls show most Republicans think the election was ‘rigged,’ a claim Trump has been making even before he lost. So as far as they’re concerned, the audit is needed in order to make sure Americans trust the system without mentioning, of course, that it was Republicans who have cast doubt in the electoral process in the first place.”
Daniel Politi, Slate

Long before the 2020 election, Trump's go-to response to even the possibility of losing any election has been to accuse the other side of cheating… During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, after he lost the Iowa caucuses to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, he claimed that he wasn't actually defeated in the Hawkeye State because Cruz ‘stole it.’ He also argued that Cruz's supposed ‘fraud’ was so egregious that ‘either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.’…

“[In the 2016 general election] Trump accused Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of doing dishonest things ‘at many polling places’ without providing any evidence… he even accused the Emmys of being ‘rigged’ against him when he was snubbed for his work on ‘The Apprentice.’… Though the media took his denial of election reality as a shock, President Donald Trump was never going to accept the results of this year's election unless he was declared the winner.”
Matthew Rozsa, Salon

“Mr. Trump and a disturbing number of Republican officials have made obsolete the old assumptions that each major party will play fair, that electoral results will reflect the will of the majority and that each side will willingly turn over power when defeated at the polls. The nation needs a top-to-bottom review of how it conducts elections, counts votes and assures the public of the democracy’s health, so that it resists those who want to restrict voting, trash legitimate ballots and leverage positions of trust to upend valid results. Among President-elect Joe Biden’s first acts should be to convene a high-level commission to recommend a democracy overhaul

“Finally, Americans should never again have to dig up rickety old laws to determine whether arcane electoral college counting procedures might offer federal lawmakers a route to overturning a presidential election by congressional vote. The commission should recommend a thorough update of the 1887 Electoral Count Act that eliminates the possibility that a partisan Congress could reject properly certified electoral votes, as Mr. Trump would like to see happen on Jan. 6… The nation’s democratic system, wounded and exposed from a rough 2020, cannot limp into 2024 in comparable or worse shape.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is skeptical that efforts to challenge the electoral votes will be successful.

The right is skeptical that efforts to challenge the electoral votes will be successful.

“[If] Democrats were trying to orchestrate a congressional do-over, Republicans would be pointing out, with due indignation, that the Constitution makes the election of a president, like the ratification of the Constitution itself, a matter of state sovereignty. Under our foundational law, it is the states, not the people and certainly not Congress, that determine for which candidate their electoral votes are cast. As long as one candidate has received a majority of the state-certified electoral votes, Congress’s role is solemn but strictly ministerial: to witness the counting of the votes…

“To begin with, there are no ‘disputed states.’ In this context, the technical meaning of ‘disputed states’ is states as to which there is an actual legal dispute as to which slate of electors has been certified by the state government. No state fits that definition…

“The power-grab here, the kind that Republicans who purport to be constitutional conservatives would ordinarily be fighting tooth and nail, is the notion that the federal government, and Congress in particular, has authority to countermand a state’s sovereign determination regarding the disposition of its electoral votes. This would be antithetical to federalism principles… If these are the Republicans, who needs Democrats?”
Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

“Trump and his lawyers have had two months to raise [the GOP Senators’] ‘concerns’ in other forums and have failed at every turn. Trump’s own DOJ has looked for evidence of widespread fraud and can’t find it. Neither can courts. In some cases, [Sen. Ben] Sasse notes, Trump’s team isn’t even alleging fraud in court because the evidence is so thin that they might be sanctioned if they tried. Georgia’s conducted two recounts, a security audit of voting machines, and a signature audit of mail-in ballots in Cobb County to try to ease people’s ‘concerns,’ to no avail. The ‘concerns’ have been ventilated. To the extent that they remain, they’re not in good faith.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Some [Republicans] may figure the vote Wednesday is merely symbolic; they can show solidarity with Mr. Trump’s voters and dodge a primary challenge in 2022. Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are making their own presidential calculations for 2024. But the cost of this showboating will be more political cynicism, and a precedent that Democrats are sure to exploit in the aftermath of some future close election…

“The GOP electoral focus now should be on minimizing the damage of the Biden-Nancy Pelosi agenda, and that includes making the case for reforms to restore trust in elections. This is mainly a state duty, but the national party can do better at exploiting the rules as they exist. That includes more consistent rules for securing the integrity of mail-in ballots, and a better litigation strategy before elections to block Democratic attempts to change rules at the last minute.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Supporters of Cruz and Hawley, however, point out that “In the past, Democrats have objected to Electoral College results on the flimsiest possible grounds… In 2001, 2005 and 2017, Democratic Representatives and, in 2005, Senators voted against accepting the Electoral College tally. Thus, every Republican president since George H. W. Bush has seen Democrats vote against accepting the legitimacy of his election…

“The issue of ballot integrity needs to be highlighted. Lack of confidence in our elections–a justified lack of confidence–is, right now, the biggest threat to our democracy. Reforms are necessary, or confidence will erode further…

“So, while it won’t do anything to prevent a Biden/Harris administration from taking office, objecting to electoral results in the joint House/Senate session, which is usually just a formality, can play a useful part in advancing the cause of election integrity. And the Democrats, having done the same thing repeatedly, only on frivolous grounds, are in no position to complain.”
John Hinderaker, Power Line Blog

“I’m not sure why I should be outraged. It will not be successful. It will not work. But it will scratch an itch for part of the base in the same way it did when Democrats did the same thing in three different elections. In one of those elections, the incumbent President won over 50% of the popular vote and still there were Democrats who challenged the Electoral College in Congress…

“No, I don’t think Hawley should do it. No, I don’t think it will be successful. But no, I really don’t care that he is doing it either and an intellectually honest media that fanned no flames of outrage over Democrats doing it should be fanning no flames now. It is okay to ignore performance art.”
Erick Erickson, Substack

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