Editorial: Budd’s statements, actions don’t line up

Published 12:10 am Sunday, January 10, 2021

The statement does not square with reality.

“Going through the Constitutional process of debate was never about overturning an election. It was about standing up for the integrity of each and every citizen’s vote,” Rep. Ted Budd said Thursday after a mob that resulted in five deaths had been cleared from the Capitol.

As impossible as it may be, forget about the current election and the current or incoming president for a moment. The constitutional process Budd, Rowan County’s lone congressman as of last week, references requires members of Congress to formally object to a state’s Electoral College votes. That means doing exactly what Budd claims he did not want to do — overturn an election — if successful.

As happens every four years, on Wednesday, a joint session of Congress met to certify the victory of the people who received the most Electoral College votes for president and vice president. Members of Congress during that session can, and did, object to a state’s Electoral College results if a U.S. senator and member of the U.S. House of Representatives sign off on a written objection. Last week was only the third time it has happened in U.S. history.

The two bodies of Congress then head to their respective chambers, debate and vote on the objection. If a majority of both bodies of Congress vote in favor of the objection, the state in question’s electoral votes are not counted, which sounds a lot like overturning an election.

Take Pennsylvania, one of the states Budd opposed certifying and about which he gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. House.

“The commonwealth of Pennsylvania violated their own constitution. They violated the U.S. Constitution. They opened the door for thousands of unverifiable ballots because they failed to guarantee the integrity of their votes, I cannot consent to accepting Pennsylvania’s electoral votes,” Budd said.

Maybe there’s an avenue through which Budd could sign off on an objection to the Electoral College results and not vote later in favor of the objection, but it’s not the one he chose. Budd was one of the 138 members of the U.S. House on Wednesday who voted in favor of the objection to Pennsylvania’s votes and part of the 121 who voted to object to Arizona’s.

If the goal is to raise questions about election security without saying the election was stolen, that’s understandable, particularly in light of the fact that there were many changes to the way people voted amid a pandemic.

But those arguments do not require objecting to another state’s Electoral College results, which could, if successful, nullify the votes of millions of American citizens and start the country down a slippery slope on which elections become nationalized.

Surely, Budd believes that an overwhelming majority of people in Pennsylvania voted legally, even if he’s upset with the final result.

As Rep. Budd said in an online post on Thursday, “The American people deserve to know without a doubt that their votes, our electoral system, and the choosing of our public officials is fair and accountable.”

That requires raising objections in a proper setting.