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Utah’s Burgess Owens listed among House Republicans aiming to challenge electoral count

Long-shot attempt aims to keep President Donald Trump in power.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Rep.-elect Burgess Owens, pictured on July 3, 2020, is listed among 10 incoming freshmen who plan to challenge Electoral College results in an attempt to keep President Donald Trump in power.

Rep.-elect Burgess Owens, R-Utah, is among a small-but-growing group of U.S. House Republicans planning to wage a long-shot challenge of the Electoral College vote count next week in a last-ditch attempt to keep President Donald Trump in power.

Fox News listed Owens on Tuesday as among 10 incoming freshmen who plan to join Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and others in that challenge. Owens did not immediately respond to repeated requests seeking comment.

Most other members of the Utah delegation say they will not join in such challenges, although Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, has yet to respond to inquiries about that.

Brooks earlier this month said he plans to use a 133-year-old law to challenge the Electoral College slates from up to six states won by President-elect Joe Biden. That would happen during a Jan. 6 joint session of Congress where electoral votes would be formally counted and certified.

If a House member and senator jointly appeal a state’s electors, rules call for the joint session to be dissolved while the House and Senate meet separately for two hours to debate a contested state’s electoral vote.

Each body would then vote whether to accept or reject that state’s electoral votes, and the joint session would resume.

Brooks has said dozens of House members plan to raise objections. On Wednesday, Sen. Josh Halwley, R-Mo., became the first senator to say he will join in challenges. He plans to protest the electors from Pennsylvania and possibly others.

That would force both chambers to debate the results of at least one state and vote on whether to accept Biden’s victory, a process that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged Republicans to avoid. However, Trump has urged Republicans to overturn results

If challengers are able to dismiss enough votes so that President-elect Joe Biden falls below the 270 electors needed to win, supporters say the Constitution would require each state legislature nationwide to appoint new electors to vote again.

Brooks and supporters have said that because Republicans hold a majority of state legislatures, they could theoretically hand Donald Trump a second term.

In explaining his plan, Brooks said earlier, “In my judgment, if only lawful votes by eligible American citizens were cast, Donald Trump won the Electoral College by a significant margin, and Congress’ certification should reflect that.”

Brooks added, “This election was stolen by the socialists engaging in extraordinary voter fraud and election theft measures.” He offered no evidence of the claims and courts have universally and repeatedly dismissed lawsuits making similar unsubstantiated claims.

Incoming Rep.-elect Bob Good, R-Va., told Fox News he plans to join in challenges because “there remain significant unanswered questions about the constitutional integrity of the voting process.”

Meanwhile, spokespeople for Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney said they have no plans to join challenges.

Rep.-elect Blake Moore explained why he has no such plans.

“I would need to see very, very substantial evidence to challenge the Electoral College,” he said. “I have not seen that to the degree that would change the outcome of the election. So that’s where I am currently on that.”

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, provided a written statement about his plans for the joint session of Congress where electoral votes will be counted.

“I have studied my role and it is clear to me that I have a duty to speak on behalf of the election process in Utah and listen to any objection raised by my fellow lawmakers concerning their state,” he said.

“I have seen no evidence of wrongdoing within Utah and have no plans to object to Utah’s Electoral College certificates. In fact, as I have watched the election process in Utah, I see within it a model for other states across the Country. As I have said many times before: I have faith in America’s election system and those who work tirelessly to ensure our elections are secure.”

He added, “If an objection is properly raised and signed by members of both the House and the Senate — I will carry out my constitutional duty to listen to both sides of the debate then vote on the merits of the objection.”

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