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Editorial: Rep. Budd says he’ll support latest effort to challenge election results

For those still insisting the 2020 election is not over, Jan. 6 is the next date circled on calendars.

It’s Jan. 6 when some members of Congress say they are prepared to object to election results in the hopes of securing another term for President Donald Trump. Rep. Ted Budd, who currently represents a portion of Rowan County and will represent all of it in a few weeks, is among those who say they plan to object.

It’s an unprecedented step in what’s usually been a routine, uncontroversial affair — just 23 minutes after the 2012 election, according to the Congressional Record. Electoral vote counting in Congress ran longer in 2017, but stayed below an hour. Because of that, it’s something teachers don’t spend time on in civics classes. So, here are the basics:

• The vice president will preside over a joint session during which Congress will count electoral votes submitted by states. (North Carolina has 15, all of which have been certified for Trump)
• At least one member of the House of Representatives as well as a senator must object in writing. The Congressional Research Service says the objection “shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof.” The basis for objections could be that a vote was not “‘regularly given’ by an elector and/or that the elector was not ‘lawfully certified.’ ”
• If there are properly made objections, each house of Congress will meet separately to debate and vote on whether to count the votes in question. Both houses must agree to the objection by a simple majority. Otherwise, the objection fails and the votes from the states in question are counted.

One goal in objecting is that Congress throws out enough electoral votes to prevent Joe Biden from being sworn in as president on Jan. 20. The Congressional Research Service says these procedures have been invoked twice since 1887 — when a law was passed over concerns about states submitting competing slates of electors. The first was a faithless elector in 1969, but that objection was rejected. In 2005, there were questions about Ohio’s electoral votes, but that objection was also rejected.

Budd has been vocal about his support for efforts to overturn election results, joining a lawsuit earlier in the year along with a majority of Republicans in the House. That effort was rejected by the Supreme Court. Other courts have tossed dozens of other election-related lawsuits.

Budd posted online Dec. 22 about his plans to object, saying he wrote to fellow Republicans representing North Carolina in the U.S. House asking them to do the same. Coastal elites, Beltway insiders and people in Congress are sneering at patriotic Americans, Budd wrote. So far, Budd has only been joined by Rep.-elect Madison Cawthorn, a Republican whose district covers the western part of the state.

“The people of North Carolina chose President Donald Trump to be reelected. We should not allow the lack of election integrity in other states deprive us of the president that we voted for,” he wrote.

Speaking to the Post on Monday, Budd wouldn’t comment on whether he thinks the effort will succeed. Because Democrats control the House and that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly warned his caucus members not to object, the effort remains a long shot and a test of loyalty to the president. To be successful in overturning the election results, both houses of Congress would have to toss out multiple states’ electoral results to bring Biden below 270.

Asked about the scale of the fraud and whether it’s enough to overturn an election, Budd talked generally about issues — the same ones you’ve heard in the news for weeks or months — without delving into specifics and saying an investigation would uncover the exact scale of wrongdoing. Budd raised issues in other states that are relevant here — voter ID and absentee by mail ballots being accepted later if they were postmarked by Election Day — but said questions loomed larger in other states. For future elections, however, Budd said he was “absolutely” worried about election issues in North Carolina.

“This is a constitutional option that we are using. Whether it will succeed or not, it’s one worth having on behalf of millions of patriotic Americans,” Budd said.

Budd says he’s not planning to contest because of allegations about voting machines. Instead, he’s objecting because of changes and decisions by people who were not elected instead of state legislatures.

It’s “the exact opposite of a coup” because the process for contesting an election is outlined in federal law, he said.

“I don’t see how following the Constitution to the letter of the law is a coup,” he said.

In the 13th, Budd represents a deeply red district — one where his planned objection to the election results will be fairly popular among the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast their ballot for Trump. As Budd did in his re-election effort, Trump beat Biden by a wide margin in the 13th Congressional District. So, barring redistricting in 2021 that puts Budd within more competitive district lines, his biggest electoral concern remains a primary from the right.

Asked about electoral considerations in 2022 for his planned objection, Budd responded,  “I’m just going to do the right thing.”

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