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Democrats and some Republicans are warning against a challenge, despite the precedent laid by Boxer

When Congress met to tally the results of the 2004 presidential election, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer stood alone on the Senate floor to object to President George W. Bush's reelection victory in Ohio over Democrat John Kerry, forcing the House and Senate to vote for only the second time in a century on whether to reject a state's Electoral College votes.

It's the same scenario that could play out next month with President Donald Trump publicly urging his supporters in Congress to object to President-elect Joe Biden's victory in battleground states that expanded mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of House Republicans is preparing to object, and they need at least one senator to join them to force the chambers to vote on the matter. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately urged Senate Republicans to steer clear, several senators have declined to rule out taking part, and incoming GOP Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has left open the possibility he will join the effort.

Democrats and even some Republicans are warning against a challenge, despite the precedent laid by Boxer. In an interview with CNN, Boxer said that the circumstances are totally different this year, when Trump and his allies are seeking to overturn a national election result, than when she joined with then-Ohio Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones to object to Kerry's loss.

"Our intent was not to overturn the election in any way. Our intent was to focus on voter suppression in Ohio," said the retired California Democrat, who says her objection was her proudest moment on the Senate floor. "They're talking about the vote that the presidency was stolen from Donald Trump. It's not even a close comparison."

Congress will count the Electoral College votes in a joint session of Congress on January 6, which represents Trump's final chance to try to overturn the election result he lost to Biden. In reality, Trump's Republican allies have virtually zero chance of changing the result, only to delay the inevitable affirmation of Biden as the Electoral College winner and the next president.

That hasn't stopped Trump -- who has spread baseless conspiracy theories to falsely claim he won the election -- from pressing for Congress to dispute the result next month. Just before Christmas, Trump hosted House Republicans at the White House who have been spearheading the effort to object to the Electoral College results, led by GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.

"I believe we have multiple senators, and the question is not if, but how many," Brooks said last week.

Brooks said the Republicans are preparing to object to Biden's win in as many as six states, which would force a dozen hours of debate on the House and Senate floors, turning the counting of Biden's victory into a political circus.

 

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