The House and Senate had convened on Wednesday to ratify Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election when a mob of Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol, resulting in an extraordinary scene that left one woman dead.
Lawmakers returned to their respective chambers on Wednesday night to resume their disrupted debates on a challenge to Arizona’s election results. Challenges that had been expected to the results in Georgia and Pennsylvania — which, like Arizona, were won by Mr. Biden — were less certain after the siege of the Capitol.
Before the Congressional action got underway, Mr. Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters in Washington, repeating many of his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread election fraud.
Mr. Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill will most likely recycle many of his claims and others in what is expected to be a futile effort to change or delay the outcome.
The House and Senate will hold separate debates in any case in which at least one member of each chamber objects to a state’s results. Each debate will last up to two hours. Only if both the House and the Senate then vote against certifying a state’s outcome is the result nullified. Since Democrats control the House and many if not most Senate Republicans oppose trying to change the outcome, there is little to no chance of the process ending without ratifying Mr. Biden’s 306-to-232 Electoral College victory.
Reporters from The New York Times will be fact-checking claims throughout the debates and providing context and analysis.
Shortly after the Nov. 3 election, officials in Maricopa County — home to a majority of Arizona voters — conducted a hand audit of four vote centers. (The county used a new system in the 2020 election that permitted residents to vote in person at any voting location in the county, rather than being limited to their home precinct.) Auditors representing the Republican Party, the Democratic Party and the Libertarian Party chose the centers, and volunteers manually counted the ballots cast at those centers and checked that they matched the machine counts. They did.
Mr. Toomey was referring to members of Congress who invoked “the 1877 precedent” in calling for a 15-member commission to audit the election results.
In the 1876 presidential election, the Democratic candidate, Samuel J. Tilden, won the popular vote, but the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, ultimately won the Electoral College in a compromise that ended Reconstruction and that several Republicans have cited as a model for the 2020 election.
An essential difference between the two elections, as Mr. Toomey said, is that in 1876, three states — Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida — sent competing slates of electors to Washington. In such a situation, Congress is explicitly tasked with resolving the dispute and determining which slate to count. This year, there are no competing slates.
President Trump and his supporters in Congress repeatedly draw from the conspiracy movement QAnon, which has pushed false claims about election fraud. Mr. Gosar repeated one such claim on Wednesday, alleging without evidence that Dominion Voting Systems, a company that makes software to help local governments run their elections, would enable someone to change votes.
Dominion Voting Systems has forcefully denied that its software could be used to “switch” or “delete” votes. There is no evidence that any voting system used in the United States, including the machines with Dominion software, allows a person to delete or changes votes, according to the federal agency that oversees election security. But QAnon adherents have continued to push the unfounded conspiracy theory.
QAnon originated in 2017, centering on the baseless notion that the country is run by a Democrat-led cabal of pedophiles whom President Trump is bringing down. As the movement has grown, it has promulgated other conspiracy theories.
Mail-in voting has become a common talking point among President Trump’s supporters falsely claiming it contributed to widespread voter fraud, including on Wednesday, when Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, brought it up. But there is little evidence to support their statements.
In March, Mr. Trump began making false claims about mail-in voting in tweets that inaccurately stated that there were “big problems and discrepancies” with mail-in voting, and that people could vote multiple times by mail.
In the weeks following the 2020 elections, the president and his supporters expanded their claims to nearly a dozen states. The claims falsely stated that people had voted in the names of others, including their spouses, dead relatives and pets, or that mail-in votes had been switched or miscounted by election officials.
Audits across the United States have not turned up cases of widespread voter fraud, or of vote switching by mail-in voting. In a handful of cases, people were discovered attempting to fraudulently vote in the names of others, but were stopped by election officials. In Pennsylvania, officials discovered that a man had unlawfully voted for Mr. Trump in the name of his deceased mother. The man is facing charges and could spend up to 19 years in prison if convicted.
Election officials have repeatedly stated that mail-in voting is safe. A database maintained by the conservative Heritage Foundation found 193 convicted cases of voter fraud between 2000 and 2020, during which roughly 250 million votes were cast.
Courts have rejected Mr. Scalise’s interpretation of election law. The Constitution gives state legislatures the power to choose their electors, but does not stipulate how they must do it. In Arizona, the legislature has delegated the authority to run elections to its secretary of state.
In Wisconsin, Mr. Trump’s campaign argued in court that the state had violated his rights through how it conducted its elections. A federal judge in Milwaukee, a Trump appointee, dismissed the case last month.
The Electors Clause of the Constitution “directs state legislatures to appoint presidential electors in a manner of their choosing,” Judge Brett H. Ludwig wrote. “There has been no violation of the Constitution.”
It is true that a recent Reuters poll found that 39 percent of Americans believe the election was “rigged.” (Twenty-two percent “strongly” agreed with that statement and 17 percent “somewhat” agreed with it.) However, the argument that Mr. Cruz is making is circular and misleading. Since the moment Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory became clear in November, Mr. Trump has repeatedly and forcefully told his supporters that the election was illegitimate. Mr. Trump and other Republicans made this argument before polling showed that many Republicans believed it, and are now citing the fact that people believe them as evidence that the false argument is correct.
Mr. Trump, speaking in Washington before the proceedings began in the Capitol, was suggesting that a last-minute batch of fraudulent votes deprived him of victory in key states, when in fact what played out was a normal vote-counting process. Election officials had warned for months that counting ballots might take days or even weeks to complete, given the prevalence of absentee ballots this year. Studies and experts predicted that Mr. Trump could lead on election night in key states, but that lead could be slowly eroded as officials continue to count mail-in ballots. That is what happened in many states.
His false assertion was one of many baseless claims he has made in recent days about election fraud.
Vice President Mike Pence does not have the power to alter the outcome of the election. His job is simply to oversee the tallying of the Electoral Votes. Just before the proceedings began, Mr. Pence issued a statement saying that the Constitution “constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
News – Fact-Checking the Congressional Debate on Ratifying the Election Results