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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Portman Plans on Opposing the Effort to Throw Out Biden Electors

Sen. Rob Portman
Nick Castele
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), seen here in Cleveland in 2019, says he will oppose an effort to object to President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College vote totals.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will oppose an effort by some of his Republican colleagues to throw out President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral votes when Congress formalizes the presidential election results this week.

Portman announced his decision in a statement Monday, saying he “cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters” by overturning Biden’s win.

A group of GOP senators and House members plans to object to counting slates of electors won by Biden, forcing debate and votes, which are expected to fail. The move has divided GOP lawmakers as President Donald Trump presses fellow Republicans to nullify his defeat.

Portman, who is up for re-election in 2022, supported Trump’s re-election bid and has said that the president had a right to challenge the results in court. But in his statement Monday, Portman rebuffed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

“But after two months of recounts and legal challenges, not a single state recount changed a result and, of the dozens of lawsuits filed, not one found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election,” Portman said. “This was the finding of numerous Republican-appointed judges and the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice.”

At the same time, Ohio’s junior senator has called for a “blue ribbon bipartisan panel on election integrity” to re-examine the 2020 election and make recommendations for future races.

Members of the Electoral College cast presidential votes in statehouses around the country Dec. 14, awarding Biden 306 votes to Trump’s 232. Ohio’s 18 electoral votes went to Trump.

Congress meets in a joint session Wednesday to accept those votes formally. The objections are likely to slow down the process by injecting hours of debate into the otherwise routine procedure. But those objections will fail unless majorities in both the House and Senate vote to sustain them.

As a member of Congress in 2005, Portman joined House and Senate members in voting down an objection to George W. Bush’s win in Ohio raised by the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

“I was concerned then that Democrats were establishing a dangerous precedent where Congress would inappropriately assert itself to try to reverse the will of the voters,” Portman said. “I cannot now support Republicans doing the same thing.”
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Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.