Fact check: Is the choice of the next U.S. president up to Mike Pence now?

TORONTO -- After the U.S. Electoral College voted to affirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election on Monday, a text being shared online claims there is still an opportunity for the vice-president and Republicans to overturn those results in January. 

Fact check: Is the choice of the next U.S. president up to Mike Pence now?

TORONTO -- After the U.S. Electoral College voted to affirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election on Monday, a text being shared online claims there is still an opportunity for the vice-president and Republicans to overturn those results in January. 


The text, which has been attributed to one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, Jenna Ellis, who represented him during his unsuccessful legal challenges of the presidential election results, has been making the rounds on social media. It's been shared by Trump’s supporters as proof the result cemented by the Electoral College’s votes can still be overturned.


THE CLAIM:
The post explains how Vice-President Mike Pence and House and Senate Republicans will be able to object to and overturn the Electoral Colleges votes affirming Biden’s win when Congress meets for a joint session to confirm the results on Jan. 6.

According to the text, Pence will have “authority as president of the Senate for that day” and he will be able to accept or reject motions.

“Mike Pence is in full authority that day as written in the Constitution,” it reads.

The text also states that the certification of the ballots by the Electoral Collage on Monday “means nothing.”

“The votes will be opened and at that point one House member could, and most likely will, raise their hand to object to the Vice President on the state of elector’s votes. That objection could cover fraud or any other reason, and with the seconding of that objection everything changes. Everything!!” the text said.

The post then explains the House and Senate will retreat for at least two hours to separately debate whether to accept or reject the objection.

“The vote will be per Senator with the Vice President being the deciding vote if needed in the Senate, while the vote in the House will be only be ONE vote per delegation, per state, not per House member!!! The Republicans have 30 delegation votes compared to the Democrats 20 delegation votes,” the text reads.

According to the post, if this scenario plays out, Trump will be re-elected and “Democrats, the media, social networks and globalists around the world will come unhinged and chaos will erupt. Bigly.”

“This is why our forefathers were so brilliant because they knew something like this could happen someday. So, don’t listen to the media and all their deception and lies. All you have to do is read the Constitution and you know that the law, policies and procedures in the end are on our side. Tic Toc… Tic Toc…” the text said.

FACT CHECK
Origin:
Firstly, the claim the text was written by Trump’s lawyer Ellis has been disputed by Ellis herself.

In a Facebook post from her official account on Monday evening, Ellis denied she is the author.

“THIS IS NOT MY STATEMENT. I don’t know where this person got this, but I did not write or share this. DO NOT ACCEPT OR SHARE anything that is not directly from my verified social media or Team Trump Official,” she wrote. 

In the comments on her post, a few users said they had seen it shared in the comments section of a Fox News article, while another person claimed the text was first posted on Facebook by a radio station in Colorado. 

The radio station did share the text on Facebook and described it as “accurate,” but they didn’t attribute it to Ellis. However, it’s unclear if they did so originally and then deleted the post. 

Can Republicans object to the Electoral College vote count?
Yes, members of Congress are allowed to object to the counting of Electoral College votes from a given state.

However, that objection will only be considered if it’s endorsed by a representative of the House and the Senate.

“Any such objection must be presented in writing and must be signed by at least one Senator and one Representative,” the provisions in Title 3, Section 15 of the U.S. Code state.  

While it’s possible that an objection could be raised on Jan. 6 by a Republican in Congress, Graham Dodds, who grew up in the U.S. and is a Concordia University professor of political science specializing in American politics, said it’s unlikely a senator will endorse it.

“I think that’s what’s not going to happen. Just yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell said, ‘Guys don't do this.’ So it seems that a lot of Republican senators have already said that they won’t,” Dodds said during an interview with CTVNews.ca on Wednesday.  

In the case where an objection is raised by a House member and a senator supports it, the House and Senate will vote on it separately.

Who votes in the debate?
The text being shared on social media is incorrect in stating: “the vote in the House will be only be ONE vote per delegation, per state, not per House member.”

According to the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the House only votes by state delegations to choose the president if no person has received the majority of Electoral College votes. 

Before that could happen, however, any objections to Biden’s win must first be voted upon and upheld by both the House and the Senate. In that process, each member of the House, where the Democrats hold the majority, votes.

“I think a Republican will probably raise an objection. I don’t think a senator will, even if the senator did, there’s no way the House would vote to go forward. So no, for multiple reasons, I just don’t see it [the objection] advancing,” Dodds said.

What is Vice-President Mike Pence’s role?
Although Pence, as president of the Senate, would preside over the proceedings on Jan. 6 when the votes are tallied, the role is mostly ceremonial.

Pence will announce the roll call for each of the states so their ballots can be counted, ask if there are any objections against a certain state’s votes being tallied, and if there are, announce if the objection has been sustained. He will also be the one to declare a winner if one candidate receives the majority of the Electoral College votes.

When it comes to his “deciding vote,” as the text on social media states, it only pertains to the debate in the Senate, in which the Republicans already hold the majority and it would not affect the separate vote in the House where the Democrats hold sway.

“In this ceremony, it is the vice-president’s to sort of gavel it into finality, as I say, but he doesn’t have a free hand entirely. I mean there is a process that’s set out,” Dodds said. 

Source: ctvnews.ca