Pence breaks silence to criticize 2020 election
Former Vice President Pence on Wednesday criticized the 2020 election in his his first extended written comments since leaving office in January.
Pence, who was presiding over a joint session of Congress when its certification of the Electoral College results was interrupted by a mob of former President Trump’s supporters, said there were “significant voting irregularities” and “numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law” in the 2020 presidential election.
The former vice president, a target of some in the mob who called for his hanging, said those events had “deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America.”
The remarks were offered by Pence in an op-ed published by the Daily Signal, a publication run by the conservative Heritage Foundation. The context was an attack on H.R. 1, a voting rights bill the House is expected to pass on Wednesday, that Pence said would “increase opportunities for election fraud.”
Trump and his allies have repeatedly argued that massive fraud contributed to his loss to President Biden. State officials in battleground states have rejected those assertions, as have courts, including a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority that includes three Trump nominees.
The Justice Department under Trump also did not find evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election that would have altered the results in any states.
False claims about widespread fraud fueled the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, endangering the lives of Pence and lawmakers in both parties and leaving five people dead.
The former vice president argues in the op-ed that measures included in the voting rights bill, formally known as the For the People Act, would “trample the First Amendment, further erode confidence in our elections, and forever dilute the votes of legally qualified eligible voters.”
“While legislators in many states have begun work on election reform to restore public confidence in state elections, unfortunately, congressional Democrats have chosen to sweep those valid concerns and reforms aside and to push forward a brazen attempt to nationalize elections in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution,” Pence writes.
The legislation introduced by Democrats would expand opportunities to vote by mail, require that states establish electronic voter legislation and give the Justice Department more authority to enforce voting rights law. The Democratic-controlled House is poised to vote on the legislation on Wednesday; it previously passed the lower chamber in 2019 but was never taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats now have a slim one-seat majority in the upper chamber.
Biden’s White House has thrown its support behind the bill, citing the futile effort by Trump to overturn the results, which included a pressure campaign on Pence to use an authority he did not have to toss out the Electoral College votes.
“In the wake of an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country, this landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy,” the White House said in a statement of administrative policy on Monday.
Wednesday’s op-ed represents Pence’s most extensive public comments since leaving the White House on Jan. 20. Other than sending out tweets, Pence has remained publicly silent since attending Biden’s inauguration.
During the Trump administration, Pence headed a controversial voting integrity commission that ultimately disbanded as states accused it of overreach. A former Democratic member of the commission in 2018 said that it never found evidence of widespread voter fraud and accused the commission of having a “pre-ordained outcome” to support Trump’s claims of voter fraud.