21st CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT — North Country U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik says her support for the Texas attorney general’s lawsuit to overturn the results of this year’s presidential election is about “protecting our Constitution.”
The Supreme Court on Friday evening declined to take up the case, dealing what is likely a death knell to President Donald Trump’s efforts to have the election overturned.
Stefanik, R-Saratoga, is among the 126 Republicans in the House of Representatives to submit a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Texas case, which sought to invalidate the election results in four states that President-elect Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.
The only other New York legislator to sign the brief was Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island, who, like Stefanik, has been a staunch and vocal defender of President Donald Trump. Four other Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation did not sign the brief.
Neither Stefanik nor Zeldin has publicly acknowledged Biden as the election winner, and the Texas case — which most analysts had considered an extreme longshot — could have conceivably invalidated the results in those states.
If the Supreme Court had invalidated the elections in those four states — which combined have 62 Electoral College votes — Biden would have had fewer than the 270 electoral votes needed to win in the college. Biden currently has 306 electoral votes.
The Supreme Court had to act quickly because the state Election College delegations are to meet in each state capital to vote this Monday, which will finalize the vote.
The filing “is about protecting our Constitution,” Stefanik said in a statement issued Thursday night, going on to echo the Trump legal team’s complaints about the use of mail-in ballots — complaints Trump has persisted in making although his legal team has presented no evidence of significant fraud, and court cases challenging the results in the four states have all been dismissed.
“The Constitution is clear: Election officials and state executives cannot change the people’s presidential election process without the state legislature approving it,” Stefanik’s statement said. “Additionally, it is unconstitutional to refuse to check signatures on mail-in ballots if the state law explicitly states that they must be checked.”
Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin all have signature check requirements for absentee ballots, while a new rule this year in Pennsylvania said a ballot couldn’t be rejected based on concerns that a voter’s signature doesn’t match the one on file. Such voter ID and signature verifications are why post-election ballot counting lasts for days and even weeks.
Election officials in all four states said their elections were run fairly and the results have been certified, and they asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the Texas lawsuit.
This year saw a surge in absentee voting across the country because of voters afraid to go to the polls in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many states adopted laws or rules to make absentee voting easier, and whether those changes were made properly is one of the things Texas challenged.
With Democrats encouraging mail-in voting and Republicans telling people to vote in person, there was a general shift toward Biden across the country as absentee ballots were opened and counted. In some contested states, Trump had an election night lead that vanished as more votes were counted.
While Trump has claimed there were millions of fraudulent votes, state election officials say voting fraud is actually extremely rare, and there are numerous protections against it. Committing voting fraud is a felony in all the states being contested.
Stefanik, who won a fourth term in November and has since touted gains for female Republicans, didn’t appear to be questioning any of those election results — only those in the presidential race, although voters were making their decisions about all races on the same ballot.
“We are requesting that the Supreme Court carefully review the lawsuit and provide clarity to the American People, who are rightfully concerned about both the unconstitutional overreach from certain state officials and the integrity of the Presidential election,” her statement concluded.
Stefanik has achieved national recognition and made appearances on conservative cable television since her sharp questioning in defense of Trump during last year’s House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings, and Trump has singled her out for praise.
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