WASHINGTON, D.C. — Count Senator Rob Portman among those Republican U.S. Senators going on the record to say they will not challenge the vote this week of the Electoral College.
“The Constitution created a system for electing the President through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress. I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters,” Portman said in a statement.
“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,” he said. “But after two months of recounts and legal challenges, not a single state recount changed a result and, of the dozens of lawsuits filed, not one found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election. This was the finding of numerous Republican-appointed judges and the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice. Every state has now weighed in and certified its electoral slate based on its vote and the process set out in the Constitution.”
"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," Portman noted.
“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,” he said.
That 2005 effort was led by the late Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland.
"This is my opportunity as a Member of Congress to stand up on behalf of the people of Ohio,” she said at the time, standing with California Senator Barbara Boxer.
"There was a lot of controversy about the Ohio vote in 2004,” said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University. “A lot of it having to do with some of the same concerns today that polling places had been closed, that a lot of people who had been registered to vote for that election supposedly weren't on the voter rolls. There were some very long lines and some polling places were closed for people who hadn't voted yet."
The difference was that John Kerry was not a party to it, he had long before conceded. It was largely a symbolic effort on the congresswoman's part to bring attention to voting irregularities.
"You know what if I were assured that there could be a real debate on voter reform, I may not have been as quick to say to Senator Boxer we need to file this objection," Rep. Tubbs Jones said in 2005.
Here in Ohio, there were changes after 2004 that gave birth to no-excuse absentee voting by mail and in-person early voting that put the state in a much better position to handle the challenges of voting in a pandemic that other states went to school on.
"We saw local Boards of Elections and state Secretaries of State, but in place the procedures that appeared to be strong, very sound and withstood all of the different court challenges that have been filed by the Trump campaign since Election Day,” Sutton said.