No, Mike Pence Cannot Unilaterally Reject Electoral Votes
Trump’s claim doesn’t hold much relevance because as per the laid rules, Pence doesn’t have the power to do that.
In another attempt to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Outgoing US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, 5 January, claimed that Vice-President Mike Pence could unilaterally reject the “fraudulently chosen electors” during Congress’ Electoral College certification process.
However, the claim doesn’t hold much relevance because as per the laid rules, Pence doesn’t have the power to do that as the President of the Senate.
According to the procedure followed in a joint session of the Congress, the vice-president (President of the Senate) opens the envelopes from each State, which contains the results, and hands them over to the four members of the House and Senate who then read it out aloud.
SO, IS THERE ANY PROVISION UNDER WHICH PENCE CAN TAKE ACTION?
The Electoral Count Act 1887, the law establishing procedures for the counting of votes, limits the President of the Senate’s power. Speaking to NBC News, a former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter said that one of the points of the Act is to make it clear that the Senate President is a “presider, not a decider”.
Further the 12th Amendment states, “The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”
“The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President,” it further adds. Scholars and experts also point out that the vice-president’s duties are more ceremonial in nature.
THEN WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF A DISPUTE?
If at least one member of the House and the Senate raise an objection about a state then it must be considered. In such a case, the joint session would be halted and the members can return to their chambers to discuss the challenge. Then a vote takes place to decide on the state’s results.
However, an article in The New York Times mentions that that hasn’t happened since the Reconstruction Era.
So to sum it up, constitutionally or legally, there is no provision following which Pence can unilaterally overthrow Biden’s victory.
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