BISMARCK — As Washington gears up for a congressional referendum on president-elect Joe Biden's victory, each member of North Dakota's delegation on Capitol Hill stated that they do not intend to object to the Electoral College results in votes later this week.
Breaking from a faction of their own party and the demands of President Donald Trump, Sen. Kevin Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kelly Armstrong each said in separate statements that an attempt to interfere with the results of the Electoral College would go beyond the scope of congressional authority.
Armstrong came out with his intent to ratify the presidential election results before his senate colleagues, issuing a statement alongside several other Republicans from the U.S. House of Representatives on Sunday, Jan. 3. Hoeven and Cramer followed with their own statements on Monday evening.
Citing long-term detriments of congressional interference, Armstrong argued that an attempt by Washington lawmakers to assert themselves into the presidential election would "amount to stealing power from the people and the states."
"The text of the Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not," Armstrong and his colleagues wrote. "Accordingly, our path forward is clear. We must respect the states' authority here."
Both Cramer and Hoeven followed Armstrong and argued that the results of the election should be left in the hands of the states, not Congress.
In a lengthy statement, Cramer said that he could not "in good conscience cast a vote to disenfranchise millions of Americans" without "sufficient evidence or clear constitutional authority."
Hoeven added that, "The people of North Dakota do not want Congress to determine their vote, and we should not set the precedent by doing it for other states."
The statements from the North Dakota delegation members rebut a faction of some GOP members on Capitol Hill. Led by Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and followed by 11 other Republican senators, the lawmakers have stated their plans over the last week to object to the Electoral College verdict, a futile attempt at salvaging President Donald Trump's bid for a second term that will nonetheless force members of both the House and Senate onto the record with their stance on the Biden win.
Elaborating on Twitter Sunday, Armstrong called the upcoming congressional ratification of the Electoral College results, slated for Wednesday, Jan. 6, "the most consequential vote I will ever take in Congress." The freshman representative warned that his party members' bid to oppose the election results is "doomed to fail" and could open a "pandora's box" liable to undermine future elections.
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Since losing the election in November, Trump and some White House officials have repeatedly challenged the election results by alleging widespread voter fraud in several battleground states, arguments that have been roundly rejected by federal judges, the Supreme Court and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.
Even as they stated their intent to ratify the election results, Armstrong, Hoeven and Cramer nodded to allegations of voter fraud. Armstrong's statement noted that he was "outraged at the significant abuses" of electoral operations in an unprecedented mail-in contest this November, while Cramer and Hoeven both expressed interest in an "electoral commission" aimed at investigating the results of the 2020 election and instituting future reforms.
While Armstrong noted that he has lasting questions about the election results, he said that his opposition to the objections of his colleagues is rooted in Constitutional authority and long-term Republican strategy.
The interference of Congress in this election, he argued, risks undermining future elections while dealing a blow to an institution that has been critical to securing Republican control of the White House in recent decades.
"From a purely partisan perspective, Republican presidential candidates have won the popular vote only once in the last 32 years," they wrote, and if Congress moves to discredit certified results of the Electoral College, "we will be delegitimizing the very system that led Donald Trump to victory 2016, and that could provide the only path to victory in 2024."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at firstname.lastname@example.org.