Questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election, Sen. Steve Daines on Saturday joined 10 other right-leaning senators in demanding that an election commission form to review the results of the presidential race, which President Donald Trump has consistently questioned since loosing handily to President-elect Joe Biden.
Democrats now have control of the House and the White House, and the balance of the Senate hinges on the outcome of the race in Georgia.
“An unprecedented number of Americans have significant doubts about the integrity of 2020 presidential election results,” Daines said in a statement issued Saturday evening. “Fewer than 45,000 votes spread across three states would alter the vote of the Electoral College.”
Daines, emboldened by his easy win over Democratic challenge Steve Bullock, Montana’s outgoing governor, said the narrow vote margin coupled with various voting processes, which played out on “a scale never before imagined,” had led to a number of irregularities.
Daines said those irregularities include signature verification, and different rules for mail-in ballots versus in-person ballots. He also cited delayed receipt of ballots, inconsistent curing of ballots, a lack of meaningful access to the polls, and the counting process for partisan poll watchers.
“These issues have cast doubt on the legitimacy of the presidential election outcome which needs further investigation for the credibility of our institutions,” Daines said. “To restore confidence for Montanans and the American people, I am joining a group of senators to propose an election commission to quickly audit the election results.”
Daines on Nov. 7 joined a small group of Republicans in supporting Trump’s allegations that Democrats “stole” the election from the president. Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, along with other Republicans, have said there’s no evidence of such claims.
Daines began raising money to help Trump challenge the results. In a text message, Daines said “Democrats are stealing the election. Trump needs our support. Give $5 & help us fight back now!”
Daines billed his latest demand for an election commission as a need to find resolution and “protect the democratic process.”
“Once completed, individual contested states would evaluate the commission’s findings, and if necessary could convene (a) special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed,” Daines said. “The commission provides a needed path to resolution before the January 20th inauguration.”
Hours after Daines issues his statement, his press office issued a subsequent notice saying the senator was not opposing the Electoral College vote.
Calling headlines suggesting as much misleading, his office said his position hinged on the formation of an electoral commission.
“For any headlines that read, ‘Daines to Oppose Electoral College Vote” or anything like it … they are incorrect, or perhaps, more misleading,” Daines spokesperson Katie Schottler said. “For all stories following today’s news, if you are to include something like ‘Daines is to object to electoral college vote,’ it absolutely should be noted that it’s contingent on the election commission, and it’s focused on disputed states.”
Daines was among a number of Republican lawmakers to join President Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the election, pledging to reject the results when Congress meets next week to count the Electoral College votes and certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Saturday announced the coalition that included Daines The group of 11 has been enlisted for Trump’s effort to subvert the will of American voters, some media sources have reported.
“Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th, and no publicity stunt will change that,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the panel overseeing the Electoral College count.
Klobuchar said the Republican effort to create a federal commission “to supersede state certifications” is wrong.
“It is undemocratic. It is un-American. And fortunately it will be unsuccessful. In the end, democracy will prevail,” she said in a statement.