Members of Lawrence’s congressional delegation who voted not to certify election results offer little explanation

photo by: AP File Photos

Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, left, speaks at the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, and Rep. Jake LaTurner, right, is pictured in a file photo from 2017.

After making extraordinary votes against certifying parts of the presidential election, two members of Lawrence’s congressional delegation were not answering questions Thursday to account for their actions.

Republicans Sen. Roger Marshall and U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner both voted in effect to overturn the presidential election results by objecting to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. Marshall and LaTurner made their votes despite no evidence that election results were invalid and after a pro-Trump mob, spurred by President Donald Trump and unfounded claims of voter fraud, stormed the Capitol and delayed the certification of Biden’s win.

The Journal-World sought to hear the lawmakers’ rationale for their votes, including whether they believe Biden was lawfully elected and whether they believe in the competence of the U.S. Judicial system, among other questions. The newspaper was not able to reach Marshall, whose voicemail was full and not accepting messages, and he did not immediately respond to questions sent to him via the contact form on his website. LaTurner did not immediately respond to a voicemail or to emailed questions from the Journal-World.

In a speech on the Senate floor before voting, Marshall said though he shared the same frustrations many Americans have over the presidential election, the violence and mob rule that occurred at the U.S. Capitol and across the country over the past year were unacceptable and he “condemned them at the highest level.” In voting against the electoral certification, he said he was voting to “restore integrity” to the republic and the voting process.

“We must restore faith and confidence in one of our republic’s most hallowed patriotic duties: voting,” Marshall said. “There’s no question our U.S. Constitution empowers our state legislatures to execute free, legal and fair elections. Unfortunately, in several states the clear authority of those state legislatures to determine the rules for voting were usurped by governors, secretaries of state, and activist courts.”

Marshall maintained he was not undoing legal votes, but rather holding states accountable for what he later described as a year of “jarring irregularities.”

“Our laws and constitutions should always be followed, especially in a time of crisis,” Marshall said. “I don’t rise (to) undo a state’s legally obtained electoral college votes, rather I rise in hopes of improving the integrity of the ballot, to hold states accountable to the time-proven constitutional system of the electoral college.”

It was unclear how Marshall reached the conclusion that he was not undoing “a state’s legally obtained electoral college votes,” while also voting to object to the certification of electoral college votes submitted by two states. The Journal-World sought clarification on the distinction through several questions.

Some of the questions the Journal-World posed to Marshall, who voted not to certify the electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania, included how a federal official who believes in state’s rights can side with the objections of individual residents of a state over the official actions of the state itself.

At one point in his speech from the Senate floor, Marshall said “activist” judges were among his concerns with the recent election process. Given that there were eight lawsuits filed in Arizona related to the 2020 election results, and courts found against them in all eight cases, the newspaper also asked Marshall whether any judge who ruled against those cases is an “activist judge.” LaTurner also voted not to certify electors from Arizona, and the Journal-World asked him the same questions.

Both lawmakers were also asked to respond to criticism that the process of objecting to a state’s electors helped fuel the angry mob that stormed the Capitol Wednesday by promoting the notion that an election had been stolen and that Congress was in some position to correct that wrong.

Some Lawrence constituents also sought to have more of a discussion amid such a historic moment but had difficulties reaching the lawmakers, particularly Marshall. Lawrence resident Sarah Hill-Nelson said for days she tried to get hold of Marshall and tell him she was against his plans to object to the election results. Hill-Nelson said she could not leave a message since his voicemail box was full and that she could not locate an email address for him.

Hill-Nelson, who said she was able to get hold of a staffer in LaTurner’s office, said she saw both Marshall and LaTurner’s votes as done purely for political gain and to win votes from Trump’s supporters. She said even if they were upset at the process of other states, that that was out of their purview.

LaTurner did not speak before voting, but his office did issue a news release on Wednesday condemning the mob that attacked the Capitol. LaTurner stated in the release that the lawless behavior was reprehensible and had no place in our country. He did not issue a statement regarding his vote.

The third member of Lawrence’s delegation, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, did not support any of the objections. He also did not make a speech, but issued a statement condemning the violence and destruction at the Capitol and another statement regarding his vote. Regarding his choice to certify the election results, Moran said in part that as a conservative Republican he must strictly adhere to the U.S. Constitution, which he said clearly limits the role of Congress to counting electoral votes and gives states the sole authority to determine and submit their electors.

“To vote to reject these state-certified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do,” Moran said.

Moran said in the statement that he had supported Trump’s right under the Constitution to challenge the results of the election in the courts, but that in every instance no judge or Supreme Court justice — including those appointed by Trump — determined there was sufficient evidence to change the results of the election. Moran questioned the motivations of others who voted against certification.

“Voting to object to the electoral process without a constitutional basis to do so may be expedient and lead to short-term political benefits for some, but would risk undermining our democracy – which is built upon the rule of law and separation of powers,” Moran said. “No victory for one’s cause today can be worth what we would lose tomorrow.”


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