Although the outcome appears inevitable, the Electoral College vote certification in a January 6 joint session of Congress now faces a gathering storm of opposition, both within and without the Capitol Building. On the streets of Washington, D.C., an as yet unknown number of Americans will converge from across the country to voice their anger at what they see as a rigged presidential election. In the halls of power, more than 100 Republican lawmakers, it is believed, intend to vote against the certification of the most improbable vote-tally in decades or longer.
It would not be the first time that members of Congress have raised objections to what is generally considered a formality, the counting of the Electoral College votes for president of the United States. In fact, Democrats have almost made something of a habit of it. The last time such a thing happened was in 2017 when Democrats objected to the certification of votes for one Donald J. Trump. At that time, their concern was the integrity of the election.
Four years later, it is apparently tantamount to treason – or an attempted coup – to raise such objections. Yet, if America is truly the land of the free and the home of the brave, the mere possibility that an election may have been fraudulently won deserves the most intense scrutiny. Until November 3, 2020, every Democratic Party official would have agreed wholeheartedly.
Before December 30, the skies over Capitol Hill were relatively clear. Though a significant number of Republican representatives – some said as many as 100 – had made the decision to contest the certification of the Electoral College, the effort was considered little more than a speedbump on Joe Biden’s road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Since the counting of votes for the presidency and vice presidency is conducted in a joint session of Congress, the protestations of any number of representatives meant nothing unless at least one senator was willing to stand with the dissenters.
As 2020 entered its final days, that prospect was doubtful. And then, on the penultimate day of that tumultuous year, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) declared his intention to stand against the vote count. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), leader of the Senate Republican majority, had made his feelings clear. Senators from his party should shun the protest, he insisted, and go along with the will of the establishment – regardless of the will of the people.
Then, on January 2, dark clouds began to form in the Washington sky. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and ten other Republican senators issued a statement of their intent to join Hawley in challenging the Electoral College result. Though still not enough in number to prevent the certification, these lawmakers from both chambers of Congress are poised to make a statement about America’s broken political system.
Cruz and his colleagues are calling for an emergency audit of ballots before the Electoral College vote is codified. Had the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives on November 3, there is a very good chance that the count would have been rejected.
The Breaking Storm
Democrats still command a majority, though, so it is all but certain that the House will vote to certify the election result. The Senate will do the same because too many Republicans in the upper chamber, like McConnell, have no stomach for what would be a historic and precipitous course of action; rejecting the decision of the Electoral College.
The storm is about to break over Capitol Hill, though. Who knows how many GOP congressmen and women will ultimately reject Biden’s coronation? On the streets and in the public squares outside, however, hundreds of thousands are likely to voice their rejection of it.
When the debates are over, and the two chambers of the legislative branch cast their votes to certify or not to certify the election result, President Trump’s supporters will see how loyal the Republican Party is to its maverick leader. Because at least some members of the party were willing to take a stand, every GOP senator and representative will, for better or for worse, be known for where they stood when the storm broke.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.