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'Democracy Prevailed' In Electoral College Vote, Norcross Says

Patch logo Patch 1/7/2021 Anthony Bellano
a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of e © AP Photo/Julio Cortez Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of e

WASHINGTON, DC — After it was disrupted by protesters storming the Capitol building on Wednesday, Congress voted to certify the 2020 Electoral College votes confirming Democrat Joe Biden as the nation's 46th president, despite a symbolic fight by Congressional allies of President Donald Trump to subvert the vote.

Wednesday's vote by a joint session of Congress was the last hurdle before the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1) voted to certify the Electoral College votes.

“Early this morning, Congress certified Joe Biden’s Electoral College win as the 46th President of the United States,” Norcross said on Twitter. “Despite the dangerous attack on the capitol, democracy prevailed, and the will of the American people was upheld.”

Norcross voted to certify the election hours after protesters invaded the nation’s capitol, a move Norcross called a “direct attack on our democracy.” Read more here: Trump Is ‘Inciting A Coup,’ NJ Congressman Norcross Says

As required under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, the 538-member Electoral College voted Dec. 14 on state-certified election results and declared Biden and Harris the winners of the election with 306 electoral votes, compared with 232 for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. New Jersey's 14 electoral votes went to Biden-Harris. A ticket needed 270 electoral votes to win the election.

The results were then delivered to Pence, who as president of the Senate presided over Wednesday's joint session of Congress and declared Biden and Harris as the winners. Wednesday was the last chance before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, to challenge the election results.

Counting and confirming the Electoral College votes, also provided for under the 12th Amendment, is largely a formality. Challenges of the validity of the electoral vote have been allowed under federal election law since 1887 under the Electoral Count Act, and trace back to a contentious 1876 election, which both Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden claimed to win.

Tilden led in the popular vote but not in the Electoral College, where 19 electoral votes from four states were in dispute. The interim solution was a 15-member commission composed of five U.S. representatives, five U.S. senators and five U.S. Supreme Court justices, who decided the election in favor of Hayes. The justices cast the deciding votes after House and Senate members voted along party lines.

Republicans — about a half-dozen senators and two dozen House members — objected to the 2020 presidential election results based on Trump's repeated, baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. The president's grievances escalated over the weekend when he pressured Georgia's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and asked him to "find" enough votes to overturn Biden's win in the state's presidential election.

To bring the objections to the election results to debate, at least one member each of the Senate or House of Representatives must make them in writing, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Just two — Arizona and Pennsylvania — received the signatures needed to require consideration, with the two houses separating and debating the question in their respective chambers for up to two hours. Both objections were rejected in the votes by the House and Senate. Both houses would have been required to vote to reject a state's electoral votes for any contested votes to be excluded.

The last time a serious Electoral College results challenge was lodged was on Jan. 6, 2001, when then-Vice President Al Gore silenced objections to his defeat the previous November by President George W. Bush.

Gore, a Democrat, won the popular vote by about 543,895 votes, but a U.S. Supreme Court divided along ideological lines voted that Bush was entitled to Florida's 25 electoral votes. He won with 271 electoral votes, one more than needed to win the presidency.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus argued for 20 minutes to block the count of Florida's electoral votes, but when no senator signed onto the debate, Gore brought it to a close with his gavel, and Bush was confirmed by Congress as the winner.

"The whole number of electors appointed to vote for President of the United States is 538, of which a majority is 270," Gore said in declaring his opponent the winner. "George W. Bush, of the state of Texas, has received for President of the United States 271 votes. Al Gore, of the state of Tennessee, has received 266 votes."

He magnanimously added: "May God bless our new president and our new vice president, and may God bless the United States of America."

There have been some minor skirmishes before and since then.

James O'Hara, a congressman from Michigan, filed the first formal objection to the Electoral College count in a Jan. 6, 1969, joint session. Richard Nixon had defeated Hubert Humphrey in both the popular and Electoral College tallies the previous November, but O'Hara's objection centered on a "faithless" North Carolina elector who was pledged to vote for Nixon but instead voted for segregationist George Wallace.

O'Hara's objection was co-signed by Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie, Humphrey's running mate on the Democratic ticket. O'Hara's effort failed and, in the end, one of North Carolina's 13 electoral votes went to Wallace.

On Jan. 6, 2005, after Bush overcame an election challenge by Democrat John Kerry, winning both the popular and electoral votes, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer joined Ohio Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones in an objection citing concerns about voting irregularities. Kerry did not support the objection, which sought to throw out all of Ohio's electoral votes.

Boxer was the only member of the Senate supporting the objection, which was supported by 31 House Democrats.

Four years ago, on Jan. 26, 2017, then-Vice President Joe Biden declared that Congress had certified Trump's Electoral College win — the one that matters — over Democrat Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she received about 3 million more popular votes than Trump.

Half a dozen House Democrats objected to the Electoral College vote count, but no senators joined the effort. Because of that, Biden repeatedly said the objections could not be entertained, even as Democrats interrupted.

“There is no debate,” Biden said at the time. “There is no debate. If there is not one signed by a senator, the objection cannot be entertained.”

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