When the U.S. Capitol Police were rushing us out of the Senate chambers at the height of the chaos, a reporter asked me who I thought was leading this mayhem. I said that if it was indeed Trump supporters, I would be heartbroken.
I am heartbroken.
An attack on our Capitol is an attack on our Constitution and democracy itself. I strongly condemn the violence that occurred, which did more to damage the democratic process than to defend it.
What made this senseless act even more offensive is that it disrupted the constitutional process that myself and other members of the Senate were trying to peacefully use to ensure each and every American’s vote counts.
Despite the attack, in the best tradition of the United States Senate, we fulfilled our Constitutional duty.
Days before this attack on the Capitol, I stated my intention to join a group of colleagues to raise concerns about the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s new vote-by-mail statute, and that Pennsylvania’s election law may have been applied unevenly by state officials, including signature verification and voter identification requirements.
Even the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s chief justice noted that one of the lawsuits in his state raised “troublesome questions about the constitutional validity of the new mail-in voting scheme.”
Legislators, election judges, Congressmen and others in Pennsylvania are concerned. Wyoming citizens are concerned, too.
The hard truth is, this election rocked the faith of many Wyoming citizens in the integrity of our election system. Polling shows that 39% of Americans believe “the election was rigged.”
We cannot turn a blind eye to American citizens not having trust in the integrity of our election systems. And Congress has a long history of using the Constitutional process of certifying electors to highlight election concerns.
In recent history, Democrats have objected to certifying electors in 2001, 2005, and 2017.
In 2005, Senator Barbara Boxer and the late Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones objected to the slate of electors from Ohio. They rightfully drew attention to the fact that many African-Americans and other communities suffered disproportionate wait times at the polls, broken voting machines and high ballot rejection rates.
Raising this objection led to some of these issues being remedied and more Americans having the precious opportunity to vote. That’s a legacy every American should value today.
Let me be clear: my objecting to the certification of the votes in Pennsylvania could not have changed the outcome of the election. That was never my intent.
Congress cannot and shall not dictate the results of a presidential election to our states.
That would be the death of our Republic. Rather, my objection was intended to shine a light on serious concerns over voter irregularities raised by Pennsylvania legislators themselves.
Many ask why Congress should be involved in election matters that have been considered by the courts.
Congress has the right and duty to interpret the Constitution, especially on matters which by the Constitution have been delegated to Congress, like the Electoral Count.
Congress itself interpreted the Twelfth Amendment in passing the Electoral Count Act in 1887.
The very title of the 1887 law says it all: “An act to fix the day for the meeting of the electors of President and Vice-President, and to provide for and regulate the counting of the votes for President and Vice-President, and the decision of questions arising thereon.”
Thomas Jefferson commented in an 1819 letter that “each of the three departments [of government] has equally the right to decide for itself what is its duty under the Constitution.” I consider my actions and the actions of my colleagues as a humble part of that long, storied tradition.
Congress cannot fix this; only state legislatures can fix this. But Congress can shine a light on election fraud.
That was the point of my vote on January 6. My fervent hope is that in state legislatures across the country where irregularities occurred, their lawmakers will consider meaningful election reform to ensure that our election laws are applied uniformly, to ensure the technology we use is accurate and secure, and most importantly, to ensure that all Americans treasure our precious right to vote and feel their voices are heard.
States are at the very center of elections in our country and will remain so. That is a fact I will always fight for.
Cynthia Lummis is the junior senator from Wyoming.