Experts Clarify Pence's Role in Vote Certification
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
WASHINGTON - Pro-Trump protesters have converged on Capitol Hill today as Congress gets set to certify states' electoral votes. The mostly ceremonial process will take longer than in past years, as some lawmakers challenge the results.
President Donald Trump has encouraged the demonstrations, claiming election fraud, and tweeted on Monday that Vice President Mike Pence has the power to reject some states' electors.
Rebecca Green, a professor at William and Mary Law School, noted that under the Electoral Count Act, the vice president has no authority to decide the election outcome. She said his duties as Senate president are to maintain order, break any potential tie and announce the winners.
"None of these duties include the power to decide controversies that might arise over counting electoral votes, or to otherwise decide the outcome of the election," she said, "so that's just not how the law works."
Some lawmakers are planning to voice objections during the vote tally, which could take up to two hours per objection. This could delay the final announcement of Joe Biden as the winner, but federal law requires it to occur before Inauguration Day.
Green spoke at an online event about the procedures of today's joint session and the implications of challenging the results. Another expert, Meredith McGehee, executive director of the nonpartisan group Issue One, said it's dangerous for lawmakers to call the election process rigged or untrustworthy because it undermines the entire democratic system.
"This domestic kind of erosion that's happening by our own president, there's nothing much more he could do to make our foreign adversaries happier," she said. "This has been work that not only Russia or China have undertaken, but other foreign adversaries. This is kind of the lit match that we're playing with, at this point."
Meanwhile, officials are bracing for possible violence in the nation's capital as groups from across the country gather for a final show of support for the outgoing president's attempts to overturn the election results.
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