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Elections

Tom Cotton and Mike Lee Reject Plans to Reject Electoral College Votes

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., AR) participates in a swearing-in for the 117th Congress in Washington, D.C., January 3, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Reuters)

Arkansas senator Tom Cotton and Utah senator Mike Lee, two of the staunchest conservatives in the GOP Senate caucus, are rejecting proposals for Congress to reject the certification Electoral College votes on January 6.

Cotton said in a written statement published Sunday night:

[T]he Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states—not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College—not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts—not Congress. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the states.

If Congress purported to overturn the results of the Electoral College, it would not only exceed that power, but also establish unwise precedents. First, Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people, which would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress. Second, Congress would imperil the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats could achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect. Third, Congress would take another big step toward federalizing election law, another longstanding Democratic priority that Republicans have consistently opposed.

Lee hasn’t issued a formal statement yet, but he has been circulating Texas GOP congressman Chip Roy’s letter opposing plans to object to certification of Electoral College votes, and Lee views the issue much the same way as Roy does, an aide to Lee tells National Review.

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