On January 6th, Vice-President Mike Pence will hold all the cards. More specifically, he will be given the sealed certificates of ballots cast by presidential electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Based on his constitutionally-appointed role as President of the Senate, Pence will open and count the ballots presented to him. In a series of tweets from Rasmussen Reports, the well-known polling company hints at the possibility of Vice-President Pence “declining to open and count the certificates from the six disputed states,” adding that “at that moment, the Presidency will be in his hands.”
Based on the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, VP Pence has every right to refuse to count electoral ballots from contested states, according to Rasmussen. In a quote from jurist John Harrison in his book titled, “Nobody for President,” (16 J.L. & Pol., 2000), he states, “The certificates that the President of the Senate is to open, however, are those of the electors, not those of non-electors. Hence, in order to know which certificates to open, the President of the Senate must know which of competing slates of electors were validly appointed.“
But who determines the validly-appointed electors? Harrison goes on to say, “A natural reading [of the Twelfth Amendment] thus indicates that in one especially important context, the dispute is to be resolved by a single individual. Neither House nor Senate is given any authority over the President of the Senate when it comes to opening the certificates, and Congress by statute may not control the exercise of this constitutionally granted authority…” implying that the role of the members of Congress on January 6 is that of observers, with VP Pence having sole authority in determining which votes to count. Simply put, Mike Pence has the fate of our republic entirely in his hands.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas has filed suit, arguing that the Electoral Count Act is unconstitutional. According to Fox News, “Gohmert’s lawsuit interprets the 12th Amendment as giving the vice president the power to decide which slate of electors to choose from a state, regardless of which slate’s votes were certified by their state. As such, it claims that the Electoral Counting Act illegally strips power from him by giving Congress the power to settle any disputes.”
There is growing support online for the VP to play what some are calling the “Pence Card,” in an effort to maintain election integrity.
It seems Vice President Mike Pence will potentially be the most powerful man in America on January 6.