Can Vice President Pence reject electoral votes from disputed states as President Trump asserts? Absolutely not. The 12th Amendment is clear when it says the Vice President “shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” Notice that not only does it not give the Vice President any such discretion, it explicitly deprives him of any such authority by saying he “shall” open rather than “may.”
Moreover, the Electoral Count Act, codified at 3 U.S. Code Sec. 15 further clarifies that the Vice President will be the “presiding officer” and designates the persons “to whom shall be handed, as they are opened, by the [Vice President], all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes, which certificates and papers shall be opened, presented, and acted upon. . . .” Once the certificates are opened and the vote is counted “the result of the same shall be delivered to the [Vice President], who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States. . . .” Again, note the use of the word “shall” and the lack of any discretionary power given to the Vice President. And this makes a lot of sense. Why on earth would we give a single politician, often times one of the candidates for election himself, the power to reject electoral votes? It makes absolutely no sense.
The Electoral Count Act does allow for Representatives and Senators to make an objection to a state’s certification, and it would appear plenty of Republicans have stated they will make such objection. But, this has no effect (other than to delay the proceedings) unless a majority vote of both the House and the Senate agrees to reject the state’s certification. Clearly, the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate will not agree to reject any state’s certification.
And, for the record, neither should any of the state’s certifications be rejected. There simply is no legitimate legal basis based on actual evidence/facts to doubt the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. All legal challenges have failed, most of them miserably so, with the President’s legal team unable to present any legitimate evidence of widespread voter fraud. The great irony of today is that those rallying in Washington, D.C. to “Stop the Steal” are themselves advocating for the election to be stolen.
It is time to turn the page. Joe Biden will take over as President on January 20. Democrats will control the House. It looks very likely the Senate will be split 50-50, with Vice President Harris breaking the tie. It will be that way because that was what the voters decided. Republicans have to move past denial and anger, take a step back, and accept the reality in front of them (not the falsehoods spouted by Donald Trump, other political opportunists in Washington, and members of the media who profit by stoking fear and paranoia).
Then, maybe we can move on to the process of assessing what went wrong. And, for what it’s worth, I would suggest that step one of rebuilding the Republican Party and working toward a better future for our country is an absolute rejection of Trumpism. It is Donald Trump’s nationalistic demagoguery, rooted in anger rather than ideas, that brought about this entirely predictable backlash (one that I warned everyone who would listen to me back in 2016 would inevitably result from his election).
Most importantly, to my fellow Christians who are struggling to accept what has happened: Donald Trump is not our Savior. Jesus Christ is. The Republican Party is not our family. The Church is. Saving the United States of America is not our mission. Saving the lost is. Let’s keep that in perspective and move forward knowing that God did not lose in November, nobody can steal victory from Him, and we have just as much reason to find joy in this season as we ever did.