Sen. Portman: ‘I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters’

Sen. Portman: ‘I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters’
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

As the clock continues to tick toward Wednesday’s joint session of Congress, where the formal count of Electoral College votes will happen, Ohio’s Republican senator says there should be a bipartisan panel to look into election integrity.

“I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters,” Portman said in a statement Monday. ““I voted for President Trump, campaigned for him as one of his Ohio co-chairs, and believe his policies are better for Ohio and America. Like nearly half the country, I was disappointed in the election results.”

Portman said months of recounts and legal challenges didn’t change one result. He added that not one of the dozens of lawsuits filed found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election.

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“Every state has now weighed in and certified its electoral slate based on its vote and the process set out in the Constitution,” Portman said.

The Ohio Senator said despite the certifications and findings from the recounts and lawsuits, he understands that many Americans believe the election was unfairly decided.

“For these reasons, for the past several weeks I have advocated that Congress should establish a blue ribbon bipartisan panel on election integrity that would provide transparency into issues in the 2020 election, and recommend best practices for the next election,” Portman said.

Wednesday the Senate and House will meet during a rare joint session. If both a senator and representative objects to a state’s certification of electors, it requires a Congressional vote on whether to reject the state’s electors.

“It is an extreme remedy because, counter to the Constitution, it allows Congress to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the voters, and for the judgment of the states that certified the results,” Portman said.

““The only time this was attempted in the past 70 years was in 2005 when Democrats objected to the electors from my home state of Ohio, hoping to give the presidency to John Kerry instead of George W. Bush. I stood in opposition to Democrats then, saying Congress should not ‘obstruct the will of the American people.’ I was concerned then that Democrats were establishing a dangerous precedent where Congress would inappropriately assert itself to try to reverse the will of the voters. I cannot now support Republicans doing the same thing,” Portman said.

Portman’s stern comments come as the Associated Press and other media outlets have reported a coalition of Senators have pledged to reject the results when Congress meets this week to count the votes. Up to 100 House Republicans also are expected to possibly challenge the Electoral College vote count, the AP reported.