GOP senators, led by Cruz, to object to Electoral College certification, demand emergency audit

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

A coalition of GOP senators and senators-elect, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, will object to the Jan. 6 certification of the presidential election results when a joint session of Congress meets next week unless there is an emergency 10-day audit of the results by an electoral commission.

Cruz -- along with Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; John Kennedy, R-La.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Mike Braun, R-Ind.; as well as Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. -- say that the election "featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud and illegal conduct."

Their effort is separate from one announced by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who said this week that he would object to what he said was the failure of some states -- most notably Pennsylvania -- to follow their own election laws.

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 "Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed.  By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes," the lawmakers say in a statement.

A source familiar with the effort told Fox News that it was Cruz who orchestrated the effort, working with other senators to organize the push against the certification and call for the electoral commission with just days to go before the joint session of Congress.

The lawmakers say there is a precedent of Democrats objecting to election results in 1969, 2001, 2005 and 2019: "And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged," they say.

The senators and senators-elect are calling for Congress to appoint an Electoral Commission to conduct a 10-day emergency audit of the election returns in states where the results are disputed. They cite as precedent the 1877 between Samuel Hayes and Rutherford Hayes, where there were allegations of fraud in multiple states.

"In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy," the lawmakers say. "Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission -- consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices -- to consider and resolve the disputed returns."

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"We should follow that precedent.  To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," they say.

Without that, they will vote against the certification.

"Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed," they say in the statement.

It is unclear whether they will rally more Republicans to their cause, and the lawmakers note that most Democrats and some Republicans will vote to certify the results, but say that an audit would increase the public’s faith in the process.

"These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend.  We do not take this action lightly.  We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it," they say. "And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy."

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The new effort by the senators marks a major win for President Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the election. Trump has repeatedly claimed he beat Biden, who flipped a number of red states including Georgia and Arizona to get over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the White House.

Trump’s campaign has launched a number of legal challenges, while Trump himself has urged states with Republican governors and legislatures to overturn Biden’s victories -- as he alleges widespread voter fraud tilted the scales to Biden.

Senate GOP leaders are against efforts to challenge Biden's win, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognizing the former vice president’s victory, and behind closed doors urging Senate Republicans not to contest the election results.

But if the GOP senators object, with a similar effort by House Republicans, the joint session of Congress would be dissolved and the House and Senate would then meet separately for two hours to debate a contested state’s electoral vote.

Each body would then vote whether to accept or reject that state’s slate of electoral votes. Then the House and Senate reconvene in the joint session. 

In the House, at least 10 incoming House GOP freshmen will back Rep. Mo Brooks' effort to object to the certification of the presidential election results on Jan. 6.

The last time this happened (and only the second time in U.S. history) was in January 2005, following President’ George W. Bush’s narrow reelection victory over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. One Senate Democrat – Sen. Barbara Boxer of California – and one House Democrat – Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones – objected. In 2017, a handful of House Democrats objected to Trump’s victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but no Senate Democrats joined them.

A state’s slate of electoral votes would only be thrown out if both the House and Senate vote to do so -- something that is unlikely given the Democratic majority in the House, and the push by GOP Senate leaders to certify.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Jason Donner, Marisa Schultz and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.