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Election Certification—U.S. Senate


The 2020 presidential election certification took place in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. The certification is normally a ceremonial counting of ballots submitted by the Electoral College. However, this certification was marred by numerous baseless allegations of voter fraud, unconstitutional procedures by Republican members of Congress, and a riot inside the Capitol building.

Prior to the certification, President Donald Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence, who was charged with overseeing the certification process, to overturn the election results. The campaign was fueled by fringe legal theories from Claremont Institute senior fellow John Eastman and other Trump advisors who argued that Pence had the unilateral authority to declare slates of electors invalid. Immediately before he began presiding over the Jan. 6 certification process, Pence stated, “It was my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

The riot that interrupted the certification proceedings occurred shortly after the first Republican legislators raised their unfounded objections to Arizona’s electors. When the joint session resumed, several members of Congress decided to withhold their objections. Nevertheless, many Republican legislators proceeded to object to certifying the Arizona and Pennsylvania electors.

Eight Republican senators voted to reject electors from Arizona and/or Pennsylvania. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised the objection to Arizona’s electors before it was defeated by a vote of 93-6. The Pennsylvania objection was raised by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and was rejected 92-7.

January 6, 2021 

Several high-profile Republican members of the Senate spoke out against certification.

  • Cruz justified his objection and called for an “emergency audit” because “recent polling shows that 39% of Americans believe the election that just occurred, ‘was rigged.’ You may not agree with that assessment. But it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country.” Cruz, additional Republican lawmakers, right-wing media outfits, and others had lied to the public about alleged voter fraud and were thus responsible for the increasingly popular belief that the election was stolen from Trump.
  • Hawley, speaking about Pennsylvania’s electors, said, “Millions of Americans are concerned about our election integrity,” and the Pennsylvania Constitution had already been interpreted for over a century to prohibit mail-in voting, except for “very limited circumstances.”
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) released a statement on Jan. 6 ahead of the certification proceedings that read, “The situation in Pennsylvania is of particular concern to me, and I will likely vote to sustain the objection to their slate of electors. The actions of the Governor’s Administration and the courts in Pennsylvania pose a serious threat to the integrity of future elections.”
  • The senators who objected to electors from Arizona and/or Pennsylvania were Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.); Rick Scott (R-Fla.); Roger Marshall (R-Kan.); John Kennedy (R-La.); Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.); Josh Hawley (R-Mo.); Ted Cruz (R-Texas); Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).