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Diana West: How Benedict Pence Avoided Counting Alternate Electors

From the Twitter account of Politico's Congress reporter, Kyle Cheney, January 7, 2021:

It's 2:55 a.m. and I just figured out how Pence massaged the rules of the Electoral College counting session to avoid introducing the "rival" slates of Trump electors.

These are the instructions VPs have given out at the start in each of the last 5. Note the difference?

Cheney's tweet included the following screenshot:

Cheney follows up in more tweets:

TLDR: The law specifies that the VP must introduce all "purported" electoral votes. This year, that might've included the unserious/mock Trump electors.
But Pence worked with the parliamentarian to interpret it so only electors backed by a state "authority" would be introduced.

Let's pause here, both to expand upon this stupendous news and let it sink in because I am sure this will be brand new to most readers.

Snarky editorializing aside, Cheney is correct. The law governing the counting of the electors on January 6 -- whose passage he reported on at Politico on January 3 -- indeed specifies that the Vice President, as President of the Senate, "must introduce all `purported' electoral votes," as he notes in his tweet; or, in legal language, "all the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes, which certificates, papers, shall be opened, presented and acted upon in the alphabetical order of the States, beginning with the letter "A."

As far as I know, all means "all" -- which surely includes the alternate slates of Trump electors chosen in as many as seven states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The elector-counting law further provides that "the tellers" -- assistants to the President of the Senate (Pence), two from the Senate, two from the House -- "having then read the same in the presence and hearing of the two Houses, shall make a list of the votes as they shall appear from said certificates; and the votes having been ascertained and counted in the manner and according to the rules by law provided, the result of the same shall be delivered to the President of the Senate, who shall thereupon announce the state of the vote, which announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States." (Italics added.)

I can't see how it is possible that the law as written prevented the alternate slates of Trump electors from being counted during the joint session of Congress on January 6. Apparently, neither could Benedict Pence, who, as Kyle Cheney tweets, "massaged the rules of the Electoral College counting session to avoid introducing the `rival' slates of Trump electors."

Let's take another look at the language Cheney attributes to Pence for "massaging" the rules; although, to my mind, Pence's wording suggests more pick-axe than gentle pressure.

After ascertaining that certificates are regular in form and authentic, the tellers will announce the votes cast by the electors for each state, beginning with Alabama, that the parliamentarian's [sic] advised me is the only certificate of vote from that state that purports to be a return form [sic] that state that has annexed to it a certificate of an authority of that state purporting to appoint or ascertain electors. [bold in Cheney's original screenshot].

Have you ever read language more desperately tortured? I have not.

Cheney comments:

Note how Pence emphasizes [...] that not only is the slate of electors "regular" and "authentic," but that the parliamentarian has advised him is the only one backed by a state "authority." (Italics added.)
That is not a regular acknowledgment at these sessions.

No, it's not. This crudely wrought and largely incomprehensible rule change (which Pence blames on the parliamentarian since the buck stops over there) has the effect of reenforcing the unconstitutional changes to election law and other irregularities in the various contested states, as well as backing the state "authority" who rammed them through. It also strangles the meaning of the law for counting electors.

In sum, this report via Twitter is a scoop of historic moment, and further proof of Mike Pence's betrayal of Donald Trump and the American people who re-elected him. No wonder it went no further in the media than a few tweets during the wee hours of January 7.

Kyle Cheney, Politico, published no story; nor, to my knowledge, has any other media outlet.

  • Electoral Vote count

  • Kyle Cheney

  • Mike Pence

  • Senate parliamentarian

  • Constitution

  • 2020 Election

  • alternative slates

  • Donald Trump

  • January 6 riot

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