US Congress makes changes reducing possibilities of overturning valid election results

Washington, Jan 6 (IANS): The US Congress has made legislative changes that significantly reduces the likelihood of it overturning valid elections results and specifying that the Vice President had no role to play in the election processes, except that his/her post is largely ceremonial in aspect.

Questions are being asked by the voters and answered by legal experts as the US heads into another Presidential election cycle in 2024 with bad memories of the unprecedented assault on the seat of Congress, Capitol, when supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the legislative building in order to prevent the election results being certified and announced with objections on the vote count.

The new law designates only one official in each state to submit the state’s slate of electors, ending the possibility of multiple slates being submitted to Congress, and requires Congress to accept only that slate. It created a process of expedited court review of electoral challenges from presidential candidates thus.

The new legislation raised the threshold to object to a state’s election results from one senator and one representative only to one-fifth of both the House and the Senate. These changes significantly decrease the risk of Congress overturning valid election results, experts said, by preventing dueling slates of electors and requiring more consensus to mount an objection.

“The idea is that only serious objections would be entertained,” Green said. “The universe of possible problems is much, much smaller with this process.”

On the 3rd anniversary of the January 6 riots in 2021, most voters are revisiting the incident and asking does the Congress or the Vice President have the right to decertify a valid election as Trump asked his supporters to do, still holding on to the belief that the 2020 elections results were stolen and perpetuating that belief in his voters base before the 2024 elections where he is front running candidate for the GOP nomination, media ports said.

Trump has repeatedly been saying in his campaign speeches that the 2020 elections were stolen from him by the democrats through what he alleged as fraudulent vote count and that he would reiterate the charge again in 2024 if he were to lose again to Biden in the projected rematch.

As the country heads into another election year that will likely have Trump on the general election ballot, legal and political experts say the legislative changes that Congress brought in the aftermath of the January 6 riots significantly reduces the likelihood that valid election results can be overturned by Congress or the Vice President – but warned there are still vulnerabilities at the state and local level that could be exploited.

In the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol riot, lawmakers of both parties were rattled. Many condemned the violence and moved to clarify the objection process to stop the assault from happening again. A bill to change vague and vulnerable wording in the 19th -- century Electoral Count Act -- supported by dozens of members of both parties -- was included in a year -- end spending bill signed by President Joe Biden in December 2022.

The law made significant changes as it clarified that the Vice President’s role is ceremonial and does not include the power to accept or reject electors. Three years ago, the nation’s Capitol underwent a chaotic day that disrupted a centuries-old tradition of peaceful transitions of power in the United States in the White House.

Hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump broke into the US Capitol building as Congress convened to help formalise the results of the 2020 presidential election, interrupting the proceedings for hours even as some Republican lawmakers moved to reject the election results in key swing states, USA TODAY reported.

Despite these changes, the experts who spoke with USA TODAY said valid election results could still be overturned.

Since 2021, Trump’s grip on the Republican party has intensified, multiple experts noted. More than half of Trump supporters have no confidence the results of the 2024 election will be accurately counted and reported, according to a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll.

A majority of GOP candidates in the 2022 midterm elections denied or questioned the results of the 2020 election. The new Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, was a leader in a legal effort to overturn the election.

If Republicans were to retain control of the House or win the Senate, they would be responsible for adhering to the new electoral count process, perhaps under immense pressure from Trump or their constituents.

How your vote gets in front of Congress: Before an election, state political parties choose people to serve as electors if their presidential candidate wins. In most cases, whichever candidate wins the most votes in each state claims all of its electoral votes (Maine and Nebraska use a proportional system).

The winning party’s electors meet to cast their votes in December after the election. A copy of those votes are sent to the Vice President to be counted in front of Congress on the following January 6 whichever candidate received the most electoral votes – at least 270 – becomes the president.

Trump and his allies pressured state and local election officials not to certify the election results; encouraged Republican electors to submit their votes and pushed officials in key swing states to formally recognise them rather than the duly elected Democratic slate; and pressured the Justice Department to declare a formal investigation into alleged fraud, among other efforts, reports recalled.

Trump had also been publicly pushing Republican lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to reject the elector’s votes in an effort to help him reverse the election results, or declare the election disputed in order to buy time for state legislatures to replace Democratic electors.

Pence said he wouldn’t because he didn’t have “unilateral authority” to reject the results, and the lawmakers’ plan to overturn certain states’ votes wouldn’t succeed because of the House’s Democratic majority, it may be recalled.

But the two chambers split to debate the objection, which was intended to be the first of six – lawmakers planned objections to Georgia, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin as well. The debate was interrupted when a mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

After the building was cleared nearly six hours later, the chambers resumed their debate and eventually defeated the Arizona objection. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., objected to Pennsylvania’s results shortly after midnight. That objection was rejected after 3 a.m. Thursday, January 7, 2021. The other objections never materialised, and the results were certified.



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