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US Rep. Paul Gosar objects to Electoral College votes for Biden in Arizona

(NPR Screenshot)

PHOENIX — Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar led an objection Wednesday to the 11 Electoral College votes in Arizona for President-elect Joe Biden.

It was an expected move from Gosar and Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who support President Donald Trump’s claim that widespread fraud helped propel the Democratic Biden to the White House victory.

Gosar’s objection was met with a round of applause from the Republican side of the chamber.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who also said he was going to object to Arizona’s result, spoke on the House floor about why he supported Gosar’s move.

“The debate of the legitimacy of the 2020 election has been suppressed by the left and the members of the media until today,” Biggs said.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona argued that Gosar’s challenge had no merit.

“Today’s challenge to Arizona’s election fails any factual analysis,” Sinema said.

Republican objections could force multiple votes in the GOP-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House that will likely fail. More than a dozen GOP senators have said they won’t support the challenges and plan to vote against them.

Since the objection occurred, the joint session was suspended and the House and Senate went into separate sessions to consider it for up to two hours. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they do not both agree, the original electoral votes are counted with no changes.

This process repeats each time there is an objection, and could go all night and into Thursday.

The last time such an objection was considered was 2005, when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, objected to Ohio’s electoral votes, claiming there were voting irregularities. Both the House and Senate debated the objection and easily rejected it. It was only the second time such a vote had occurred.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is presiding over the proceedings, released a statement Wednesday saying he would follow the process of counting the Electoral College votes.

Pence has a largely ceremonial role, opening the sealed envelopes from the states after they are carried in mahogany boxes used for the occasion, and reading the results aloud. But he was under growing pressure from Trump to overturn the will of the voters and tip the results in the president’s favor, despite having no legal power to affect the outcome.

“Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Biden’s win by about 10,000 votes in Arizona was the first for a Democrat in the state since 1996.

Biden, who won the Electoral College 306-232, is to be inaugurated Jan. 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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