The final step in a turmoil-filled 2020 presidential election is set for Wednesday, when Congress will certify election results showing that Joe Biden defeated President Trump.
But a series of objections from GOP legislators is expected to stretch that routine process into a much lengthier one — and one that is dividing the Republican Party between those who back Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and those who do not. Those claims have failed repeatedly in dozens of lawsuits brought by Trump’s legal team.
At least 12 GOP senators and dozens of House Republicans say they intend to object to the Electoral College results as those votes are read, state by state, in a joint session of Congress that begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
It’s not yet clear exactly how Wednesday’s process will unfold, but Republicans could raise objections to the results from as many as six swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada.
Maryland Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) told WBAL-TV on Monday that he will likely object to several states “where I think the outcome is probably in doubt because inadequate investigation has been allowed to occur.”
“If there is no wrongdoing, there is nothing to hide, let’s go ahead, you know, throw open the windows, open the doors, let’s see all the materials,” Harris told the station. “…I would love to hear from the other side why investigations shouldn’t be done.”
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said at a State House press conference on Tuesday that the vote certification should be a perfunctory process.
“And for these senators to raise this issue, these folks in the House to make this … because Donald Trump is pressuring them to do it, I think is a terrible mistake for those senators and congressmen, I think it’s bad for the Republican Party, bad for the country,” Hogan said. “I think it is destructive to our democracy and I think it diminishes our standing in the world.”
Not all Republicans in the U.S. Capitol have embraced Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. A dozen House Republicans are pushing back, arguing that Congress has a narrow role in elections and that states are responsible for selecting electors to certify votes.
“To take action otherwise ― that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process — would amount to stealing power from the people and the states,” lawmakers wrote in a letter, obtained by the website Punchbowl, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday.
Republicans signing that letter include Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Austin Scott of Georgia, and Pete Meijer of Michigan, among others.
“It would, in effect, replace the electoral college with Congress, and in so doing strengthen the efforts of those on the left who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant,” they wrote.
Raising a formal objection to the Electoral College results requires a written document signed by at least one member of the House and one senator. A recognized objection prompts two hours of debate in each chamber, followed by a vote.
While the process may drag out, possibly even into Thursday, those objections are unlikely to change the outcome, with both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate expected to defeat the challenges.
As that debate plays out inside the Capitol, potentially violent protests are expected in downtown Washington, where militia groups and members of the extremist group the Proud Boys are already gathering to show support for Trump.
Maryland Matters reporter Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.