On Jan. 6, one last chance for Trump to snatch away Biden's win
On Jan. 6, one last chance for Trump to snatch away Biden's win

The US presidential election was on Nov. 3; most news organizations pronounced Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners.

However, President Donald Trump has alleged that voter fraud in several battleground states accounted for Biden's triumph. The president and his team have fought unsuccessfully in the courts to prove their claims.

Trump’s most ardent supporters are clinging to what is almost certainly a fantasy of overturning the results of the election in Congress. The Electoral Count Act of 1887 requires the vice president to preside over the validation of Electoral College votes in a largely ceremonial capacity and to affirm the winner of the presidential election.

On January 6, Congress will meet in a joint session to formally count the Electoral College votes submitted by the states. The electoral votes are carried into the chamber in ornate boxes, members of Congress look them over and then the incumbent vice president, acting as Senate president, declares the winners. In this case, it will be Vice President Mike Pence declaring victory for his opponents. It will be a tough pill to swallow, but other vice presidents have in the past, including Richard Nixon in 1961 and Al Gore in 2001.

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The states have already counted the votes cast by their electors. Biden won with a total of 306 electoral votes, compared with President Trump’s 232 (270 Electoral College votes are needed to win). Biden also won the popular vote by over 7 million votes.

According to CNN, Reps. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., Jody Hice, R-Ga., Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., and Joe Wilson, R-S.C., are among more than one dozen Republican House members who have said they'll vote against counting the Electoral College votes next week. Two Republican representatives told CNN they expect at least 140 of their GOP colleagues to join in the effort.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Republicans not to challenge the election results, but Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has vowed to do so.

Both chambers of Congress will then break off separately for two hours of debate on the electors.

It's widely believed Republicans have little chance of overturning the outcome, though objections to the certification will delay the process a few hours. it’s hard to imagine a situation in which an objection to a single state’s votes goes anywhere — let alone the multiple states that would be needed to change the election results.

'Wild Protests' when Congress meets Jan. 6

Thousands of people are expected to be in D.C. to protest the 2020 election on Jan. 6, the day Congress meets to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the election.

Multiple groups have applied for permits for First Amendment activity on that day, and President Donald Trump has called on supporters to descend on D.C. for a "wild" protest.

At the urging of President Donald Trump, however, die-hard supporters are planning to descend on the nation's capital Jan. 6, to pressure Republican lawmakers into aligning themselves with the doomed effort to overturn Joe Biden's electoral victory.

According to USA Today, various Trump groups are promoting the demonstrations online. One called "#StopTheSteal" operates the website "WildProtest.com," which proclaims that "PRESIDENT TRUMP WANTS YOU IN DC JANUARY 6." "Be there, will be wild," says one flier.

On January 6 - Last Chance for Trump vs Biden: 140 House Republicans to vote against counting the electoral votes
'Wild Protests' when Congress meets Jan. 6

The National Park Service has received three different permit applications for protests to be scheduled around the electoral vote count.

Women for America First, a conservative women's group requested a permit for a protest of about 5,000 in Freedom Plaza.

A group called the Eighty Percent Coalition also requested a permit for 10,000 protestors in the same area. The group, whose name is a reference to the approximately 80% of Trump voters who do not believe Biden won the election fairly, have titled their event the "Rally to Save America." Other groups are planning to demonstrate at the Capitol itself as the House and Senate count Electoral College votes.

Given the recent violent clashes that have erupted at previous election-related protests, some local businesses are preparing for the worst.

January 6 Is a Key Date for Trump

What is Congress’s role?

On Jan. 6, the Senate and House meet jointly to open and count certificates of electoral votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, in alphabetical order. The process is spelled out in great detail in the U.S. legal code, right down to the Jan. 6 date and the hour (1 p.m.) at which the joint session begins. The candidate who reaches 270 electoral votes is the winner. During the session, at which Vice President Mike Pence will preside, any member may object to the results from any individual state.

What might happen this time?

At least two House Republicans have said they either plan to make an objection to the declaration or that they support such an effort -- Mo Brooks of Alabama and incoming freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Asked in a Dec. 9 C-SPAN interview which state electors he plans to challenge, Brooks replied, “Well I’m not limiting myself, but by way of example, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, maybe Arizona.” The question is whether any senator will take up the cause. If no senator does, then the process stalls out before it can even begin.

Will a senator go along?

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That seemed unclear until Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, announced on Dec. 30 that he would raise an objection as well, mentioning Pennsylvania as one state whose election procedures troubled him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged fellow Republicans not to object, saying it could hurt the party politically. Pence, as the presiding officer, could find himself in the awkward position of having to gavel down objections raised by supporters who would like nothing more than to keep him in office as vice president.

What happens if a representative and senator file an objection?

The joint session immediately recesses before the next state is called, and the House and Senate meet separately to debate the objection for up to two hours before voting on whether to count or discard the electoral votes in question. Only if the objection is approved by both houses would votes be excluded. With a Democratic majority in the House, and several Republican senators on record opposing Trump’s attempts to overturn Biden’s win, any objection would be highly unlikely to succeed in getting electoral votes thrown out.

But if separate two-hour debates are required for multiple states, the process could be a drawn-out affair.

Have objections been raised before?

Actually, objections aren’t rare during this process, but usually they are disposed of quickly and easily. After the 2016 election won by Trump, for instance, several Democratic representatives attempted to challenge electoral votes, but no senator joined them. In 2005, following the contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry, a group of Democrats in Congress objected to the electoral votes from Ohio. In that instance, both Ohio Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones and California Senator Barbara Boxer filed the objection, prompting consideration by both chambers.

The challenge was rejected by votes of 267-31 by the House and 74-1 by the Senate.

History: Has Congress ever rejected votes?

In 1873, Congress decided not to count votes from Arkansas and Louisiana in the re-election of President Ulysses S. Grant, though Grant would have been the victor either way, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Four years later, in 1877, a joint session of Congress confronting competing slates of electors opted to create a bipartisan electoral commission to resolve the highly disputed election between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, who ended up winning by a single electoral vote.

In hopes of avoiding such a situation in the future, Congress passed the Electoral College Act of 1887, which formed the basis for the current law. There have been no cases to date in which the process has changed the outcome of an election, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Source: Bloomberg

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