New Congress

Vice President Mike Pence, left, administers the oath of office to Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., on Sunday at the Capitol in Washington. Lummis is part of a coalition of 11 Republican senators vowing to reject President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on January 6 unless Congress launches a commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results.

Some Republicans continue to support President Donald Trump’s failing and desperate attempts to “find” votes to stay in office, but the election is over and states have certified their results.

Sadly for Wyoming, freshman U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis has chosen to follow this herd, including 10 other U.S. senators. She is putting the 45th president’s interests before our country, our Constitution and the peaceful transfer of power.

As Lummis prepares to question the legal votes of American citizens living in other states, her fellow Republicans have warned that such a move is dangerous, anti-democratic, anti-conservative and striking at the foundation of the republic. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney posted a wise warning Monday:

“Congress does not, however, have the authority to overturn state presidential election results by refusing to count electors and thereby substituting our views for the votes of the people in the states. Doing so would be establishing a tyranny of Congress and stealing power from the states and the people in those states.”

She warned of the precedent Republicans are setting: “I cannot in good faith surrender Wyoming’s right to determine the winner of the Presidential election in our state to a future Democratic Congress, which could, following the dangerous precedent we would be setting here, decide to reject our Republican electors on any pretext they found convenient.”

Cheney’s fears might not be unfounded, as Lummis cites Democratic precedents as justification for her action, proving precedents matter. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, also spoke out against fellow senators’ plan to usurp power from states: “The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress,” he said in a news release. “They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress.”

Lummis and others contend an election audit — lawmakers’ justification for objecting today to counting certified electoral votes from some states — would restore confidence in the integrity of elections. Misinformation and unfounded allegations have fueled an effort to discredit bipartisan election officials in states across the country. If the real goal is to restore confidence in elections, then skip the rushed 10-day audit of the inconvenient results in five states and instead appoint a bipartisan commission, with proper resources and time, to investigate allegations of election fraud and irregularities across every state.

Not one court in the country has found viable evidence of fraud. We must trust each state in the union to present its electoral votes reflecting the will of its voters, and each state’s courts to affirm any question of results. We can investigate and refine how elections are run without unleashing the lasting damage to democracy that comes from flirting with a coup.

By the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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