Josh Hawley Is Not Doing His Party or ‘Election Integrity’ Any Favors by Supporting Challenges to Biden’s Electoral Votes
Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) plans to join the challenge to some of Joe Biden’s electoral votes when Congress officially tallies the presidential election results next Wednesday. The support of a senator, along with the objections that some of Donald Trump’s allies in the House plan to lodge, is enough to force votes in both chambers. But the effort to reject electoral votes, let alone stop Biden from taking office, is still bound to fail, since successful challenges require majority support in both the House and the Senate.
Hawley, a freshman senator with presidential ambitions and populist rhetoric similar to Trump’s, has not explicitly endorsed the president’s charge that Biden stole the election, which Trump has been unable to substantiate even while claiming to have “absolute PROOF” of “massive Election Fraud.” The senator says he wants to make a statement about election procedures he considers illegal or deficient.
“Following both the 2004 and 2016 elections, Democrats in Congress objected during the certification of electoral votes in order to raise concerns about election integrity,” Hawley said in a press release he issued yesterday. “They were praised by Democratic leadership and the media when they did. And they were entitled to do so. But now those of us concerned about the integrity of this election are entitled to do the same.”
Hawley said “some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.” He added that “I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.”
The first claim has some merit, as illustrated by the controversy over the extension of Pennsylvania’s deadline for absentee ballots, which was challenged in court but did not affect the outcome of the election in that state. The second claim, which alludes to Hawley’s oft-stated complaint that social media platforms discriminate against conservatives, has nothing whatsoever to do with the integrity of the election or the validity of any particular state’s electoral votes.
Hawley is right that Democrats have a history of expressing their dissatisfaction with election practices by objecting to electoral votes. But leaving aside a controversy over a “faithless” elector who voted for George Wallace instead of Richard Nixon in 1968, such protests have attracted a senator’s support just once in the 133 years since Congress approved the Electoral Count Act, which established the procedures that Hawley intends to use.
In 2005, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D–Calif.) joined Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D–Ohio) in objecting to electoral votes from Ohio, which they claimed had disqualified or discouraged voters through various improper policies and practices. Under the Electoral Count Act, that forced the joint session of Congress to adjourn for separate debates and votes. The challenge—which was not supported by 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, then a Massachusetts senator—failed by a vote of 267–31 in the House and 74–1 in the Senate.
Notwithstanding the resounding rejection of Boxer and Jones’ objections, Republicans were not happy about the maneuver. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R–Texas) said the Democrats had a habit of “crying wolf” every four years. House Republicans ridiculed Democratic allegations of election fraud in Ohio, which George W. Bush won by about 120,000 votes. “This is a travesty,” said Sen. Rick Santorum (R–Pa.). “They’re still not over the 2000 election, let alone the 2004 election.”
But that was then. Now that a Republican presidential candidate has lost, Haw
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