UPDATES: Local Republicans to object to electoral count, citing claims of fraud

Both Ohio senators will affirm Biden’s win

Two Dayton area Republicans — U.S. Reps. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, and Jim Jordan, R-Urbana — are objecting today as Congress counts the Electoral College presidential vote that affirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s win.

In a Wednesday morning interview Davidson said he had already submitted paperwork to oppose results from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states that have certified Biden’s win. Davidson did not offer specific proof of fraud or irregularities but said there are affidavits and videos that have circulated claiming fraud.

“It’s not honest to say there is no evidence. There’s tons of evidence,” he said. “Now it hasn’t been proven in a court.”

Both of Ohio’s U.S. senators, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown, said they will support the Electoral College tally of 306 for former Vice President Biden and his running mate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and 232 for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Winning nearly 81.3 million votes, Biden bested Trump in the popular vote by more than 7 million votes, results that were certified by all states and affirmed by the Electoral College in December. No evidence of widespread fraud or voting irregularities have been found that could have changed the results of the election.

More than 100 House Republicans and about 13 Republican senators have said they will object in support of Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election. As the session began today, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, formerly objected to acceptance of Biden’s Electoral College win in Arizona.

“They are showing that they oppose democracy. It’s a sad day for our country,” said Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. “Its just sad that they don’t trust the American people. They want to take away votes of people in states that didn’t vote the way they wanted to.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, urged Republicans to abandon their effort to overturn the election results, saying democracy “would enter a death spiral” if Congress were to overrule voters, courts and states.

“Self-government, my colleagues, requires a shared commitment to the truth and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system,” McConnell said as the Senate began debating the Arizona objection.

Congressional debate was suspended Wednesday afternoon as the Capitol went on lockdown when pro-Trump protesters breached security and entered the Capitol building.

Davidson contends that some states “failed to uphold the equal protection principle of one person, one vote and where that failure made the intent of voters difficult to discern. Millions of Americans have doubts about the integrity of the 2020 election and look to Congress to represent these concerns in accordance with the Constitution. This isn’t about overturning the results of the election; it’s about a duty to defend the United States Constitution.”

Jordan has said on Twitter and in interviews with conservative media outlets that he will object to the election results today. Jordan’s spokesman Russell Dye declined to provide comment from Jordan. But in comments made on Fox News and excerpted today in the Dayton Daily News, Jordan said his objections are based on Constitutional concerns and over the way Pennsylvania handled the election.

“I support what Jim Jordan’s doing because we all want a clean and fair election and it looks like their might be some improprieties to look into,” said State Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp., who chairs the Montgomery County Republican Party. “The problem is there is just a lack of trust in who looked into it.”

Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Rhine McLin denounced the Republican effort to overturn the will of voters without evidence of wrongdoing.

“Fueled by conspiracy theories, Ohio Republicans continue to parrot Donald Trump’s false narrative of voter fraud,” said McLin, former mayor of Dayton.

Hannah said Trump has a history of sowing doubt about electoral integrity.

“He questioned the popular vote after the 2016 election and he never committed to accepting the results of this election either.” Hannah said. “As the party leader, his views are going to influence his voters and supporters.”

Today’s Congressional session is normally a ceremonial process to count the electoral votes and announce the winner, the final step before the Jan. 20 inauguration. Despite expected objections by some Republicans, it appears unlikely the results will be overturned.

“A majority in both houses must vote to reject a state’s electoral votes, according to the Electoral Count Act; otherwise those votes, as submitted by the governor or another official empowered to do so under state law, must stand,” said Christopher Devine, assistant professor of political science at the University of Dayton. “There is no way that this will happen in even one state, let alone in the number of states that would be required to overturn Biden’s legitimate election and anoint Donald Trump the winner.”

Pence, who as president of the Senate is presiding over the joint session, has rejected Trump’s request that he overturn the results.

If at least one senator and one House member object to a specific state’s electors, the two houses break for debate that can last up to two hours for each objection to a specific state’s result. Each house of Congress then votes on the objection, which fails if either the House or Senate votes against it. Each objection must be handled separately, so it is possible voting will continue into Thursday if Republicans object to multiple states’ electors.

“Pence will not be the first vice president that has had to preside over this procedure after losing an election. Al Gore, Dan Quayle, and Walter Mondale have all been in this position and it went as expected,” said Lee Hannah, associate professor of political science at Wright State University. “At the end of the day, President Biden’s victory will be recognized by Congress. That is certain.”

“Enough Republicans and Democrats have made it very clear they will vote against any challenges. This is grandstanding, an attempt to curry favor with Trump supporters, who seem more convinced every day that the election was ‘rigged’ or ‘stolen,’” said Mark Caleb Smith, director of Cedarville University’s Center for Political Studies. “The assumption that somehow this political theater is harmless or just politics as usual is flawed. I view this as a dangerous precedent, just as it was in 2005 when attempted last time. Unlike then, there was not a president pushing the false narrative. That has changed everything.”

Since the election Trump and his allies have promoted claims of fraud, filed unsuccessful lawsuits across the nation and at the U.S. Supreme Court trying to overturn the results, and implored elected officials in states Biden won to reverse the results.

“Let’s be clear: the election is over and the Biden-Harris ticket won. President Trump’s lawsuits and phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to overturn the will of the American people and ‘find votes’ are the last desperate acts of a presidency that voters rejected in record numbers last November,” Brown said via email on Tuesday. “It’s unconscionable that Republican lawmakers are actively threatening the integrity of our election process by dealing in unfounded conspiracies and refusing — yet again — to stand up to the president.”

Portman said the U.S. Constitution “created a system for electing the president through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress. I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters.”

“Following the election, I supported the Trump campaign’s right to pursue recounts and legal challenges. There were instances of fraud and irregularities, as there are in every presidential election, and those who engaged in that conduct should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Portman said in a news release Monday. “But after two months of recounts and legal challenges, not a single state recount changed a result and, of the dozens of lawsuits filed, not one found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election.”

Portman said those findings came from multiple judges, including those appointed by Trump or other Republicans, as well as the Trump Administration’ justice department and the states.

This story is developing and will be updated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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