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Kennedy among 11 senators planning to object to electoral college vote certification

Their objections are largely expected to be ceremonial, as there is no evidence of any massive, multi-state conspiracy against outgoing President Donald Trump.
Credit: AP
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., listens to testimony during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy pledged to oppose the certification of electoral college results from six swing states that went to 2020 election winner Joe Biden unless Congress approved an "emergency audit" of the vote. 

Kennedy was listed among 11 senators opposing the count in a joint statement released by him and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. 

Joining Kennedy and are Cruz are James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana, as well as Sens.-Elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Haggerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

In the statement, the senators didn't provide any proof of election fraud. In fact, there has been no credible evidence of widespread fraud in any state, let alone the swing states at the heart of the Trump camp's complaints. 

But the senators, citing Reuters/Ipsos polling, say nearly 40% of the U.S. believes "the election was rigged," and portrayed themselves as the last line of defense in the constitutionally mandated process. 

They said they intend to join with members of the House of Representatives --including La. Rep. Clay Higgins -- in objecting to certification of certain states as not "regularly given" or "lawfully certified." 

Instead, the senators called for an investigative panel to be established in the same style as the one concocted in 1877 to settle disputes over the results of the Hayes-Tilden presidential race in three states.

The panel, like in 1877, would be comprised of five representatives, five senators and five members of the Supreme Court; they would have 10 days to review the election and turn in a report to the legislatures of all 50 states, which "could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed." 

But that isn't likely. There appears to be no appetite among Congressional leadership, or even among most of the rank and file elected officials, to plunge into a partisan investigation that would likely just rehash arguments already made in the weeks since the election without any new findings. 

Their objections are largely expected to be ceremonial, as there is no evidence of the massive, multi-state conspiracy against outgoing President Donald Trump that would be required to secretly tip the outcome of the election.

That's something even the senators signing onto this Don Quixote-esque plan seem to acknowledge. 

"We are not naive," they wrote. "We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise." 

But even without support for their investigative plan, the senators will still be able to throw a wrench into the count by signing on to objections by members of the lower house, which will force the full Congress to debate and vote on certification. 

It won't change the outcome, but could slow down the formal procedure. 

This is not the first time that politicians have attempted to throw gears into the electoral vote counting process. In fact, it is a trend in the 21st century, with House members in 2001, 2005 and 2017 raising objections. But in each case, the Vice President -- Al Gore, Dick Cheney and current President-Elect Joe Biden -- shut them down quickly because none of them had the backing of a U.S. senator. 

The House and Senate convened for a joint session of Congress to verify certificates and count electoral college votes from each state for president and vice president of the United States. Donald Trump was officially certified as the next president with 304 electoral votes, followed by Hillary Clinton with 227.

The last-minute bit of political theater comes the same day as a delegation of 24 Louisiana state representatives sent a letter to the Pelican State's congressional delegation asking them to object to certification. 

RELATED: Louisiana state legislators urge Congress to reject electoral college vote despite no credible proof of fraud

The legislators, about a quarter of Louisiana's 105 state representatives, allege in their letter, without evidence, that there was widespread fraud in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

All of those states went for Joe Biden, who was heavily favored to win the election headed into November. Louisiana's eight electoral college votes went to Donald Trump.

In the weeks since the election was called by media outlets and certified by state election officials across the country, Trump, along with some of his allies and supporters, have railed against the country's choice. 

Trump has falsely repeatedly claimed that the election was marred by fraud and fake ballots, often targeting mail-in voting, which spiked dramatically because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

But judges across the country, including many of Trump's own appointees, have thrown out at least 10 lawsuits from the outgoing president's campaign because they lacked any tangible evidence that fraud had taken place. 

In fact, election security experts say the 2020 election was the most secure in modern history.

Congress will meet for a joint session in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 to formally certify the electoral college's votes for president. 

Ed. Note: A previous version of this story referenced Sen. Bill Cassidy. The Louisiana senator who was referenced in the statement is John Kennedy. 

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