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burgess owns plans to object Electoral College
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Utah’s Burgess Owens among those who will fight Electoral College certification

FILE -- Republican Burgess Owens speaks during a campaign launch event at Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Incoming Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, is among a group of GOP lawmakers that will support an Alabama representative’s plan to object to the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote next week.

“If irregularities exist, we should examine and provide solutions to make sure our electoral process is accurate and represents the will of the people,” Owens said this week. “Millions of Americans across this country are concerned about the electoral process and we do them a great disservice by merely ignoring their voices.”

Owens will join KSL NewsRadio’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry program on Thursday at 12:35 p.m. to discuss his decision. You can listen to it live here.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, also a Republican, is behind the push in the House of Representatives. Currently, no other members of Utah’s delegation to Washington plan to object during next Wednesday’s joint session.

In a statement, Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said he has seen no evidence of fraud, but will carry out his duty to listen to any objections fellow lawmakers raise concerning their state.

“I have seen no evidence of wrongdoing within Utah and have no plans to object to Utah’s Electoral College certificates. In fact, as I have watched the election process in Utah, I see within it a model for other states across the country,” he said.

“However, if an objection is properly raised and signed by members of both the House and the Senate, I will carry out my constitutional duty to listen to both sides of the debate then vote on the merits of the objection.”

How the Electoral College objection works

According to the 1887 Electoral College Act, any lawmaker can object to a state’s votes on any grounds. However, in order for Congress to act on an objection, it must be in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. 

This week, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, released a statement saying he would add his name to those objecting the certification.

Once an objection meets the criteria for action, congressional rules call for suspension of the joint session; both the House and the Senate adjourn into separate sessions to consider the objection.

It is there that they weigh the objections and vote to agree or disagree.

According to the Associated Press, 2005 represented the last time Congress considered any such objection. That year, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, objected to Ohio’s electoral votes by claiming there were voting irregularities. Both chambers debated the objection and rejected it. It was only the second time such a vote had occurred.