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Ron Estes, Tracey Mann and Jake LaTurner join Republican bid to block presidential vote

Rafael Garcia
Topeka Capital-Journal
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes and Representatives-elect Tracey Mann and Jake LaTurner, three-quarters of Kansas' delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, announced Sunday they would join a Republican bid to block or delay certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Kansas' three Republican U.S. representatives announced Sunday they would sign onto a bid to stop certification of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday, citing "serious allegations of voter fraud and violations of their own state laws" in other states.

Reps. Ron Estes, Tracey Mann and Jake LaTurner on Sunday said they intend to object to certifying the electoral votes from certain states. Mann and LaTurner, newcomers to Congress, were scheduled to be sworn into office Sunday.

"This action is not taken lightly and comes after extensive study and research," the delegation said in a statement. "Kansans deserve to know that all legal, and only legal, votes were counted. We hope our actions begin to restore the confidence of tens of millions of our fellow Americans that feel their sacred right to vote is under attack." 

The announcement comes a day after Sen. Roger Marshall, whom Mann is replacing in representing Kansas' 1st Congressional District, also announced he would join 10 other U.S. Senators in protesting certification of the Electoral College.

Those moves are unlikely to be successful, given the fact that blocking certification would require majority votes in both the House and Senate. Democrats will retain control of the House, and in the Republican-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged members of his party to avoid such divisive action.

Some Republican officials, such as Sen. Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, have called the efforts to block the Electoral College certification "a dangerous ploy." Sen. Mitt Romney, of Utah, has been a vocal critic of Trump from within the party.

"“The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic," Romney said. "The congressional power to reject electors is reserved for the most extreme and unusual circumstances. These are far from it. More Americans participated in this election than ever before, and they made their choice. President Trump’s lawyers made their case before scores of courts; in every instance, they failed."

Later Sunday morning, a bipartisan group of senators — including Romney, Republicans Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Lisa Murkowski; Democrats Joe Manchin, Mark Warner, Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan and Dick Durbin; and independent Angus King — condemned the attempts to stop Congress' certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

"The voters have spoken, and Congress must now fulfill its responsibility to certify the election results," the group said in a statement. "In two weeks, we will begin working with our colleagues and the new Administration on bipartisan, common sense solutions to the enormous challenges facing our country. It is time to move forward."

Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas's senior senator, has not said which way he will vote on certifying the Electoral College vote. Like most other Republican elected officials, he had held off on declaring Biden the winner immediately after most media outlets had projected Biden as the winner. 

However, a few weeks after the Nov. 3 election, Moran said "every indication" pointed to Biden having been duly elected following several vote certifications from several states.

Since losing the Nov. 3 presidential election, President Donald Trump, his campaign and other Republican elected officials have questioned the integrity of the election, making unsubstantiated claims of voter and electoral fraud particularly in states Trump narrowly lost or was expected to win. 

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who resigned on Dec. 23, in early December said the Justice Department had not been able to uncover any evidence of voter fraud that could materially change the presidential election results.

Trump's campaign has filed multiple lawsuits seeking to challenge results in those states, but out of approximately 50 lawsuits, nearly all have been dismissed or dropped after the campaign has been unable to provide legal evidence for their claims.

The vote Wednesday will be one of the first of the 117th Congress, with Marshall and the three House members officially sworn-in Sunday.