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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Chris Stewart announced Monday that he will not vote to certify results of the 2020 presidential election, adding to a list of Republican lawmakers who say they will vote against Democrat President-elect Joe Biden's election win over President Donald Trump.
Stewart tweeted that he believed there are "critical questions that need to be answered concerning our Presidential election."
"Until we have resolved the issues surrounding voting irregularities, ballot integrity and security, and the implementation of state election laws, I can not, in good conscience, uphold the oath I took to protect and defend our constitution by voting to certify the election," he added. "Voting is the most important duty we exercise in a republic. By my objection to certify the election, I am safeguarding the sanctity of each vote.
"President-elect Joe Biden deserves to enter his Presidency without this cloud hanging over him, President Trump deserves answers, and most importantly, the American people deserve to have their confidence in our elections restored," he continued.
Biden won the election with a 306-232 edge in the electoral college after electors cast finalized the election process last month. Members of Congress are set to vote to certify results on Wednesday.
State and federal election officials have repeatedly said there is no evidence to support Trump's claims that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud. Multiple courts have rejected lawsuits brought by Trump supporters advancing those claims, as well. The Washington Post on Sunday also released audio of a phone conservation where Trump pressured Georgia's top election official to "find" enough votes to overturn his defeat in that state.
Stewart, appearing on KSL NewsRadio's "Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry" Monday afternoon to further explain his decision on the upcoming vote, argued there is "plenty of evidence" about the matter. He said courts dismissed cases based on technical issues. For instance, he pointed to a letter by 27 Republican legislators in Pennsylvania that asked for a special counsel to investigate the results of the 2020 election.
"The question is, 'is there enough evidence to actually overturn the election?'" he said.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz issued a statement on Saturday that he and at least 11 other Republican senators will reject the official certification of electors over their concerns of the legitimacy of the results. The group said Congress should appoint a commission to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of election results in states where Trump has asserted unproven claims of election fraud, such as Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Over 100 Republican representatives have also announced plans to vote against election results, as well. Stewart and Rep. Burgess Owens, who was sworn in over the weekend, are currently the only Utah representatives that have announced their plans to vote against certification. Stewart said he agreed with the Senate plan for a short, 10-day review of the process.
Sen. Mitt Romney condemned the effort of his Republican colleagues over the weekend. He called the measure an "egregious ploy" that "dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic" in a statement Saturday. He argued that it would also set a bad precedent for elections to come.
"Were Congress to actually reject state electors, partisans would inevitably demand the same any time their candidate had lost," he said. "Congress, not voters in the respective states, would choose our presidents."
Utah Reps. John Curtis and Blake Moore, who was also sworn in for the first time Sunday, both said last week they plan to listen to both sides of the debate before they vote on the results. They added that they haven't seen any evidence yet that would lead them to try to block election results.
No matter how you voted in the presidential election, we should all be disappointed with attempts to pressure Georgia officials to "find" votes. Under Republican leadership, the GA presidential results have gone through multiple recounts and legal challenges. It is what it is.— Rep. John Curtis (@RepJohnCurtis) January 4, 2021
Moore said Monday also on KSL NewsRadio's "Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry" that he is collecting input on the matter still doesn't plan to raise his own objections Wednesday. He added that will continue to listen to his colleagues before he will vote on the issue.
As Reuters pointed out, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, acknowledged Biden's victory after electors voted in December. He has urged other Senate Republicans to refrain from objecting on Jan. 6. The news organization added that senators who planned to vote against the results acknowledged their attempts were unlikely to succeed.
Chris Karpowitz, co-director of the Center for Study of Democracy and Elections at Brigham Young University, told the Deseret News Monday that there may be some additional "twists and turns" during the process Wednesday. He added that it might likely be "just a very long and divisive and frustrating" process that won't change the results of the election.
For his part, Stewart said he believes it's "extraordinarily unlikely" that the presidential election results will be overturned this week. He said he believes it is important to conduct a review of the results to put the election to rest.
"For heavens sakes, we're just asking for the benefit of everyone, Republican, Democrat, Biden supporters, Trump supporters — for the benefit of everyone," Stewart said. "Let's make sure we have answered these questions to the very best of our ability."
Contributing: Lee Lonsberry, KSL NewsRadio