(ABC4) – On Wednesday, lawmakers will meet to count electoral votes for President of the United States from the states in our nation.
Some Republican congressmen from Utah, such as Representative Chris Stewart, have said they will back President Donald Trump in questioning other states’ voting process and results in today’s meeting.
But is questioning the Electoral College in other states within a congressman’s rights? And what does that process look like?
ABC4 reached out to Jason Perry, Vice President for Government Relations and the Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, to find out.
The short answer is, yes. The power to question votes in states that are not their own is within a congressman’s rights. However, some lawmakers, like Senator Mitt Romney, believe this questioning shows an erosion of states’ rights. And the events in Wednesday’s meeting will likely be unprecedented in the United State’s election process.
As Perry explained, all states have already certified their election results. Wednesday, during a joint session of Congress, a teller will read out the names of each state alphabetically and the votes from the electors representing those states.
Every member of congress – the House and the Senate – has an opportunity to object to the electors, to the votes coming from any particular state when that state comes forward, Perry says.
“To the question as to whether or not members of our delegation are able to object to the certification- they can when it comes to any particular state when it comes up,” he says.
If both someone in the House and someone in the Senate object to one particular state, he says, “the House and the Senate will divide, and they have up to two hours to discuss the alleged irregularities that existed in that particular state, and by simple majority, they can not certify those objections.”
Perry says that often, this process is just a formality, historically taking only 23 minutes. But that will not be the case today when each state’s votes need to be certified before Congress.
“If we do have the process tomorrow full of objections from the House and Senate- and we do have 13 members of the Republican party in the senate and over 100 members of the House who said they are going to reject- this will be unprecedented for us in terms of our election process,” Perry says.
But is it hypocritical of lawmakers to question votes in other states but not votes in their own state?
According to Perry, some believe so.
Perry cited Senator Mitt Romney, who he says has called it an erosion of states’ rights.
“Mitt Romney has made that sort of statement in the past couple of weeks as well – if we have people objecting to the voting processes in other states that are not their own, that takes away the vote of the people of that state and gives that to Congress,” Perry tells ABC4.
According to Perry, “Mitt Romney has said we should only have rejection of the electors in the most extreme and unusual circumstances, and that is at the root of his argument. This is left to the states, and if a state certifies their election results, it’s really not congress to say, I object to the results from some other state.”
When congressmen question the electoral college in other states, it seems that they are not necessarily questioning that process in their state because the process is slightly different in every state.
“The election processes themselves are left to other states. Congress certifies these election results, but the election processes are set by the state of Utah. We have our own election rules and election guidelines and process for certification,” Perry states. “Each state does, and every state except for two states, gives those electoral votes to the winner in the general election of that particular state.”
Perry says he predicts that any objections that come up today are not going to change the results in any significant way.
“I think the outcome with President Joe Biden being put into office is almost a certainty. Even people who are objecting right now believe that it is unlikely that they are going to change the results, but there are some members of Congress who are saying that it’s their duty when you see irregularities to object and I think that’s going to be their argument.”
However, he says it all depends on what happens in those rooms when the objections occur.
“So far, people are not really pointing to any broadscale irregularities that would change the course of this election, certainly no widespread voter fraud, but that’s what they’re going to talk about when they break into those rooms tomorrow.”
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