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Cotton breaks with conservative colleagues who will oppose electoral vote count

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (R-Ark.), a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, broke with his rivals Sunday night by announcing he will not object to the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Cotton warned that an effort spearheaded by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump plugs Hawley's new book over tech industry Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee MORE (R-Mo.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R-Texas), two other 2024 White House hopefuls, to challenge the electoral votes of several swing states that went for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE could “establish unwise precedents.”

While Cotton said he is concerned about how the 2020 presidential election was carried out, such as changes to election law allowing mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day to be counted, he argued it is up to the states and the courts — not Congress — to handle election laws.

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“The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress,” he said in a statement released Sunday evening. 

“Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the state,” he said. 

Cotton warned that if Congress threw out the electoral votes of states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE has alleged without evidence widespread election fraud, it would “take away the power to choose the president from the people.” 

He said it would imperil the Electoral College and the voice it gives to smaller states like Arkansas and help Democrats “achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College.” 

He said if Congress overrides the Electoral College’s vote, it would “take another big step toward federalizing election law.”

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“Thus, I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on Jan. 6,” he said. 

Cotton said he is disappointed in the election results and grateful for what Trump accomplished during his four years in office but argued that “objecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term — it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.”

Cotton is the second key Trump ally and conservative Republican senator to break with the effort to delay the counting of electoral votes, which is scheduled to take place during a joint session of Congress Wednesday.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' House to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-S.C.) earlier in the day said an effort led by Cruz and supported by 10 other Republican senators to set up a special commission to audit the results of the 2020 election was a “political dodge.”

“Proposing a commission at this late date — which has zero chance of becoming reality — is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy,” he said.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAssaults on Roe v Wade increasing Trump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneCheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan The Memo: Trump's critics face wrath of GOP base MORE (R-S.D.) have warned Republican colleagues that objecting to states’ electoral votes, which will force members of the Senate to vote on the matter, would be a political mistake.

Both chambers would have to vote throw out a state’s electoral votes, and the chances of that happening are nil with Democrats in control of the House. 

Updated on Jan. 4 at 6:18 a.m.