Congressman Baird Statement on Objection to Certification Votes
Washington, January 7, 2021
Dear Fellow Hoosiers,
Since the election, I have heard from countless Hoosiers concerned with how the 2020 election was conducted. Along with millions of other Americans across the country, they’ve raised important questions about the irregularities in how some states conducted their elections and the impact these actions may have on the integrity of this and future elections. I share some of these concerns. With this in mind, and at the strong urging of the Hoosiers who sent me to Congress, I have decided that I will join a large group of my fellow members of Congress in objecting to the certification of Electoral College slates from certain states.
While I condemn the violent protests that occurred today at the U.S. Capitol in the strongest terms possible, it doesn’t change the fact that concerns remain on how several states enacted new election rules without the consent from their state legislatures.
I do not take this decision lightly. The Framers were clear with their intentions, and the Constitution lays out in Article II, Section 1, clause 2, that state legislatures are the only entities that have the authority to establish the rules on how their states choose Presidential Electors. This clause is an important component to the federation of states that is our country – where states have the authority to govern themselves yet trust in the actions and law abiding of their counterparts. Unfortunately, prior to this election several state governors, secretaries of state, election officials, and judges exceeded this constitutional authority – neglecting to follow proper procedure in changing election laws in response to the disruptive nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a former state legislator, this action is perturbing to me. Through my experience, I recognize and appreciate the importance of state legislatures not weakening, and upholding the authority granted them by our Constitution and that of their own state. I feel strongly that state legislators are important actors of federalism - the elected officials closest to the people and communities of this country, and we must support the decisions they were elected to make.
I thoroughly understand the challenges our nation has shared together this year as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts nearly every aspect of what is considered our normal way of life. I respect the need many states felt to make reasonable changes to their election process in response, and I hope to trust that any of these changes were made in good faith. However, with that said, it cannot serve as an excuse to make these changes outside of the proper channels, for states to toss aside the Constitution, or undermine the power of state legislatures. Allowing these improperly founded changes to stand is a dangerous precedent that deteriorates the strength of our democracy and American trust in our election system, and I cannot stand idly by.
As a strong believer in federalism, I regularly support the right of states to chart their own path and protect their home rule. However, as a federated nation, these actions must still align with our Constitution and inspire confidence in process for their counterparts. If some states didn’t follow the rules it negates the voters from other states, like Indiana, that did and reduces the confidence voters have in our entire process. When this confidence is eroded and a state violates the Constitution in a manner that impacts the rest of the country, it is Congress’s duty to rectify the issue. This is why I urged the Supreme Court to rule on this issue last month. Since the issue remains unresolved, it is now Congress’s responsibility to resolve these disputes. Therefore, I will object to the certification of states with unresolved issues.
More important to me than my personal ideology on federalism is my duty to Country and to the Hoosiers who elected me to be their voice in Washington. In recent weeks, I have heard from thousands of my constituents who have called, mailed, emailed, and faxed my office or even stopped me in public expressing concern over the election process and irregularities. Overwhelmingly, these constituents have asked me to rectify incongruity with election law and process. My objection to disputed state electors is at the request of the Hoosiers I represent.
As the representative for Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution; this is an oath and duty I have stepped up to countless times in my life and a responsibility that I have never taken lightly. At this time, I truly believe that this is the right decision for our country; to protect the Constitution and ensure the integrity of future elections.
Dr. James R. Baird