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Contention predicted for electoral college vote count at joint session

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The National Task Force on Election Crises met virtually on Tuesday and explained why there could be contention with vote objections and inaccurate information on social media.

The House and Senate will count electoral college votes in a traditional joint session on Wednesday for the final step in the presidential election process.

Some members of Congress plan to object to the results. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, and several other Republican senators and senators-elect said they plan to reject elector in “contested states” when Congress meets to formally count the electoral college votes on Wednesday.

The National Task Force on Elections Crises said it is more contentious than usual also because President Donald Trump tweeted inaccurate information that said Vice President Mike Pence "has the power to reject election results".

The task force explained that constitutionally, the Vice-President's role in the joint session is purely ceremonial and that he is in charge of opening the physical votes which will result in a Joe Biden victory.

"None of these duties include the power to decide controversies that might arise over counting electoral college or to otherwise decide the outcome of the election," William & Mary Law School professor Rebecca Green said. "That's just not how the law works."

"Right," Campaign Legal Center president Trevor Potter said. "The person who seems to be challenging the result and trying to change it is only the President here I think."

UW-La Crosse political analyst Anthony Chergosky said that this tweet puts Pence in an awkward position because it's asking him to do something he is not allowed to do.

"If Donald Trump is suggesting that Mike Pence has that power then well where does that leave Mike Pence?" Chergosky said. "He can't disqualify electoral votes and does that mean that suddenly this vice president who has been loyal to President Trump at every turn suddenly is he the fall guy for President Trump's loss? We'll see."

Chergosky explained that only members of Congress can object to the electoral college votes and that a few Republicans will try. In order for an objection to qualify it needs to be a written document signed by at least one Senator and one member of the House.

Chergosky predicts the objections will make the joint session last longer but won't change the outcome.

In 2017 and 2001 house Democrats objected to the results with no sponsors. Two Democratic senators joined a challenge to Ohio's results in 2005, but the objection was soundly defeated.


The Loyola University Chicago Law Journal analyzed different scenarios for this very situation. For more you can click here.

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Marcus Aarsvold

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