Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) said in a Tuesday press call that legislators who challenge electoral results are undermining Americans’ faith in democracy, but three of Virginia’s Republican congressmen support a challenge, and two have committed to vote to challenge the results.
Warner said, “We’ve got what traditionally has been a pro-forma event happening tomorrow, January 6, where the House and the Senate meet in tandem to basically count the certified electoral votes.” Warner said people who object to certification were enablers helping President Trump disrupt democracy. He also said challenging the results plays into the hands of foreign enemies, providing them with material for propaganda.
In a Tuesday statement, Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) said he supported challenging the electors from states where constitutional questions have been raised. Wittman did not say if he would challenge the results.
He said, “This is bigger than one man. This is about ensuring election integrity throughout the Nation and restoring faith in our electoral processes. This is not about overturning the election, but allowing the debate to air the concerns from the millions of Americans who have had their faith in our electoral system rocked. It’s time to bring all sides of the discussion into the public narrative.”
Newly-elected Congressman Bob Good (R-VA-05) announced in a press release, “All Americans deserve to have confidence in the integrity and results of the election. It is Congress’ constitutional duty to uphold and maintain the integrity of our system of government. The American people have voiced their concerns about the unprecedented volume of mail-in voting, and violations of longstanding state laws that may have resulted in fraud in the 2020 general election. On January 6th, I will object to the certification of electors in multiple states for which laws were violated or evidence of fraud has not been sufficiently reviewed.”
Congressman Ben Cline (R-VA-06) argued that state legislatures have the constitutional authority to decide how elections are held. “But in the months preceding the 2020 election, those rules and procedures established by the state Legislatures were deliberately changed by a number of individuals, including governors, secretaries of state, elections officials, judges, and private parties,” Cline said in a statement. “Therefore, because I continue to have serious concerns regarding the constitutionality of these electors, I will vote to uphold objections to their certification on January 6.”
Warner said that once at least one representative and one senator object to a specific state’s electors, the two chambers would hold separate debates, a process that could last two hours for each debate. As a result, Warner said that although clear majorities will vote to certify the results, the process could take a long time. “It will probably be a wild next 72 hours,” he said on Tuesday morning.
At least 140 representatives are expected to challenge the electors, according to CNN reporter Jake Tapper. Warner said he expected around 20 out of 100 Senators to challenge the electors.
The GOP, which has struggled to develop the best political strategy in the wake of the November elections, has split along the issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has increasingly grown willing to buck President Trump’s interests and warned his caucus to not challenge the results, according to Politico. But a coalition of Republican Senators have announced they will challenge the results, saying that the vote is the one remaining Constitutional power that can force consideration of the allegations of fraud.
In a press release, the Senators wrote, “Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes. And those allegations are not believed just by one individual candidate. Instead, they are widespread. Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39 percent of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged.’ That belief is held by Republicans (67 percent), Democrats (17 percent), and Independents (31 percent).”
Cline, Wittman, and Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09) all supported an earlier lawsuit filed by Texas against Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. “The brief was well-written and persuasive,” Griffith said on Facebook.
On Tuesday, Griffith’s office did not say if he would join in objecting to the electors.
Virginia Republicans in state government have also weighed in on the issue. Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) has reportedly said that Joe Biden will be the next president, while his opponent State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) is one of the most vocal voices in Virginia claiming fraud in the election. On Tuesday, Delegate Dave LaRock (R-Hamilton), Mark Cole (R-Stafford County), and Ronnie Campbell (R-Lexington) sent a letter to Vice-President Mike Pence asking him to block the certification, according to a tweet by reporter Ben Dennis.
“This letter is written to you by elected members of the Virginia General Assembly, notifying you that we hereby ask you to nullify the Certificate of Ascertainment of Presidential Electors issued by the governor of our state,” the Delegates wrote, citing concerns about last minute changes to the voting process. “Our Country is based on the consent of the governed, and if half of the country were to believe that their votes no longer matter, we fear for the consequences for the union.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected].