Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced on Saturday that he is leading a group of 10 other senators in calling for an electoral commission “to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns” in states where former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory has been met with claims of voter fraud.
In the joint press release, the senators said that “unless and until” such a commission conducts a thorough audit, they intend to “reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’” on January 6.
When the House and Senate meet in a joint session on Wednesday to certify the election results, votes will be counted from states in alphabetical order.
Per U.S. statute, if both a House member and a senator sign and submit a written objection to the results of one of the states, the House and Senate will then convene separately to debate and vote on the objection.
If both chambers vote in agreement with the objection, the votes from that state would not be counted, otherwise they would be formally added to the total and the tally of the other states would resume.
In 2016, several House Democrats — including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) on multiple occasions — raised objections to the certification of votes in favor of Donald Trump on account of allegations of Russian interference in the election, but all objections failed because no senator joined them.
Even before Cruz and the other senators indicated their intent to object to the certification of votes, Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX-05) sent a letter to Cruz and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) saying that he planned to object to the certification and requested their support.
Other Texas members, including Reps. Brian Babin (R-TX-36), Randy Weber (R-TX-14), and Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), have also said that they plan to object to the certification of certain states.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01) filed a lawsuit in an attempt to permit Vice President Mike Pence — the president of the Senate who will preside over the joint session on Wednesday — to choose whether or not to count the votes from states with contested election results, but that suit was dismissed for lack of standing.
The outlook for the eleventh-hour measure to block the certification of votes from states like Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan is improbable, as the Republicans pursuing the option face opposition from both the Democrats and their own party.
“We are not naïve,” said the press release from Cruz. “We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise.”
“But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit — conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20 — would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.”
Opposition from within the Republican Party has proved true and some of it has come from members who are otherwise frequently aligned with Cruz, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
“We, like most Americans, are outraged at the significant abuses in our election system,” said Roy in a joint press release with six other House Republicans.
“But only the states have authority to appoint electors, in accordance with state law. Congress has only a narrow role in the presidential election process. Its job is to count the electors submitted by the states, not to determine which electors the states should have sent,” they stated.
Cotton, similar to those who joined Roy’s statement, argued that challenging the election results by way of Congress would set negative precedents and “would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has said that the states’ certification of their electoral votes is “conclusive,” indicating that he would not vote in favor of the objections.
The certification of the votes will take place on Wednesday, January 6 at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.