Both of Southwest Mississippi’s members of Congress opposed the certification Wednesday of the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral college votes while condemning riots at the Capitol by people who had intended to disrupt that process, the last step needed to put Joe Biden in the White House.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and 3rd District Rep. Michael Guest, both Republicans, questioned the validity of the election in statements released after the chaos surrounding what is typically a mundane step of the presidential election process.
“The American democratic process is working despite the unacceptable violence and destruction at the U.S. Capitol today,” said Hyde-Smith, who is from Lincoln County. “The mobs will not stop the Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duty. I firmly believe in our Constitution, the rule of law, and the importance of full faith in the integrity of our elections. We, as a nation, must do everything we can to protect and restore confidence in the electoral process.”
This week marked the start of Hyde-Smith’s first full term in office. She was appointed to the Senate in 2018 and held onto the seat after winning two narrow races in 2018 and again in 2020.
“I promised to represent the people of Mississippi and the certification process gives me an opportunity to use my vote to voice their concerns,” she said. “I have followed the proceedings after the 2020 presidential election and heard from many Mississippians who are troubled by the conduct of the election in various states and the eventual outcome. ... The people I represent do not believe the presidential election was constitutional and cannot accept the Electoral College decision; therefore, I cannot in good conscience support certification.”
In calling for arrests, Guest, a former prosecutor, condemned the rioting but not the cause behind it.
“I join many of my colleagues in strongly condemning these actions, and I fully support the efforts of law enforcement to bring to justice those who committed acts of violence or destruction,” he said.
The move to oppose certification of the Electoral College votes centered on objections of the ballots from battleground states Arizona and Pennsylvania, which had seen numerous unsuccessful attempts to overturn the results in court.
Guest said he joined a group of other Republican lawmakers in opposing the electoral votes from those two states because “these states failed to conduct elections that followed the requirements set up by their state legislatures and outlined in our Constitution.
“Throughout this election process, many concerns have been raised regarding the legitimacy of our elections. We, as a nation, must commit ourselves to addressing these concerns to ensure that the legitimacy of future elections is secured and that faith is restored to our electoral process,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., voted to accept the results of the Electoral College.
“I am disappointed in the outcome of the 2020 election. I have been privileged to work with President Trump during his successful four-year term, I was glad to earn his endorsement in 2018, and I was honored to serve as a co-chairman of his state campaign,” Wicker said in a statement before Wednesday’s vote. “However, our campaign lost a close election, and it is time to acknowledge that.
“The President’s own Attorney General, his head of election security, and a number of Trump-appointed, conservative federal judges all have found that, despite widespread allegations of fraud, there simply was not enough evidence to change the outcome of the election in any state.
“... Congress cannot — and should not — get into the business of deciding the results of our elections. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes duly submitted by the states. Anything further would not be compatible with our Constitution or the conservative principles of limited government that I have sworn to defend.”
Wicker said he feared an attempt to overturn the election would lead to Democrats moving to eliminate the Electoral College, “which preserves a voice for smaller states like Mississippi in our national elections.”
“I know many of my fellow Mississippians will disagree with my decision, and I share their commitment to making sure our elections are fair,” Wicker said. “But I must vote according to my conscience, my oath of office, and my understanding of the rule of law. I hope that with the start of a new Congress, we can take steps to restore faith in America’s electoral system.”