More on the Supposed Certification of Electoral College Votes

The New York Times reports this morning that former Vice President Mike Pence defended his role in (the article’s word, not Pence’s) “certifying” the results of the 2020 presidential election. As I’ve written here before, the Vice President, like the Congress, has no such power. Constitutionally, the Vice President presides over the counting of Electoral College ballots; the winner “shall be” the president. The semantics matter. Presiding is a passive role; “certifying” suggests the candidate with a majority of electoral votes becomes President-Elect only after some affirming act on the part of Congress or the Vice President. Pence deserves credit for presiding over the 2020 count over President Trump’s objections and in the face of insurrectionists who wanted to assassinate him for doing his constitutional duty. But we should be careful about imputing powers to him that he neither exercised nor possessed in the first place.

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