Congressman Adrian Smith Defends Decision to Object to 2020 Election Results
By Christina Stella , Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
Jan. 6, 2021, 9:07 a.m. ·
Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith (NE-03) is defending his decision to object to the certified election of Joe Biden on Wednesday after announcing he would be the first member of the state’s congressional delegation to do so. In an interview with NET News, Smith said he made the decision after “ a great deal of thought and study,” into “various issues” he believes occurred during the 2020 election.
“It is an opportunity to say ‘we need to heighten our voter security,” said Smith. There have been no proven instances of voter fraud in any state on a scale that would affect the results of the election, and officials from both parties in key states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada have reported the election was one of the most secure in U.S. history.
Courts of law have also rebuffed dozens of the President’s legal challenges following Nov. 4 and upheld states’ alterations to the voting and counting process in almost every instance.
Still, Smith thinks voting practices implemented due to the pandemic by some states were unconstitutional and merit debate by Congress, though the body does not have the legal power to overturn the results. He listed practices implemented in Pennsylvania as his primary example.
"Our constitution is very clear that states run our elections and that the state legislatures set the rule,” Smith said. He claimed that courts in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Secretary of State overstepped in allowing an increased period for allowing mail-in ballots and eliminating the need for a signature requirement, among other things.
“These were decisions made by folks that the constitution says should not be making those decisions,” Smith said.
Many of those changes were enacted by state lawmakers weeks to months before the election. In Pennsylvania, Act 77 — which expanded mail-in voting — passed the GOP-led Legislature with bipartisan support in 2019.
High levels of mail-in balloting played a key role in handing Joe Biden his victory in the state.
Smith claimed the problem only seems to be with the presidential election and not down-ballot races, though he did not discern why. The Republican Party picked up congressional seats nationwide this year, flipping several held by Democrats. Party leadership has not cast doubt on the results of any elections won by Republicans.
While Democrats have almost universally criticized the GOP’s effort to sow disinformation about the results of the Presidential race, responses have been split among Republicans, including Nebraska’s delegation. While Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) and Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) have remained non-committal, Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse have come out against the effort. Sasse called the objection a “dangerous ploy” that could present long term ramifications to American democracy.
Smith said he is not bothered by a potential split within the party and that the country was founded by people who disagree with one another.
"I would hope we won’t just sit idly by when we know that there’s some concerns out there and especially when the constitution has been pretty clear about the state legislatures making the rules.”
The debates that follow each state’s objection is expected to increase the certification process by several hours, but will not overturn the results of the election. Congress does not have a legal pathway to reverse the results of an election run by individual states.
Despite casting doubt on the election results, Smith did not say he necessarily wanted to overturn them, commenting that he's only trying to promote “debate”.
“I don’t think that anyone should assume that just because questions are asked that whether there’s the objective or the outcome that would automatically overturn an election,” Smith said.