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President Donald Trump has sent strong signals that he expects Vice President Mike Pence to hand him the re-election when Congress meets on Jan. 6 to count the votes of the electoral college.

The Vice President will chair this joint session, and Trump and some of his allies in Republican Congress are leaning heavily on pence to change the November 3 election result, which Democrat Joe Biden won, but legal experts Neal Katyal and John Monsky wrote a New York Times column stating that his authority in the process is quite limited.

“Neither the Constitutional text nor the electoral census law gives the Vice President any substantive powers,” the couple wrote. “Its powers are ministerial, and this circumscribed role makes general sense: the point of an election is to let the people decide who will rule it. If an incumbent could simply maneuver to stay in office – after all, a maneuver to protect Mr Trump also protects Mr Pence – it would seriously undermine our government’s most fundamental imperative. In America, “we the people” and not “we the Vice President” control our destiny. “

Both in Article II of the Constitution and in the 12th Amendment it is stated that the votes of the electoral college should be opened by the “President of the Senate”, ie the Vice-President. The Electoral Census Act, passed in 1887 to avoid chaotic censuses like the one after the 1876 elections, adds important details. It provides a detailed schedule for the electoral count, ending with the final count on January 6th, and describes the vice president’s powers.

“They protected themselves from any pretext that he had to cast the votes of a certain state, and said the vice president had to open all certificates and papers that are supposed to be electoral votes,” wrote Katyal and Monsky. They went on to say that in the event of a dispute, both houses of Congress would have to disagree with a particular state’s vote in order to reject it. And they made it hard for Congress to disagree, adding measures like a “safe harbor” requirement and recognition of certification by state officials. “

All of the president’s legal challenges have been lost and the results have been confirmed by states and voters duly cast their ballots. So there is nothing Trump or Pence can do to stop their loss of reelection according to the rules set out in the Constitution and the Election Census Act.

“[Pence] Now he is on the verge of history as he begins his most rigorous leadership act, ”wrote Katyal and Monsky. “The question for Vice President Pence and other members of Congress is which side of the story he wants to go into. Can he show the integrity that every previous presidential administration has shown? The American people accept a graceful loser, but a sore loser never goes down well in the history books. “

“Like everyone who came before him, [Pence] the votes should count as they have been certified and do whatever it takes to oppose those who would otherwise, ”they added. “This is no time for someone to be a spectator – our republic is at stake.”

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