An open letter to Representative Obernolte
January 12, 2021

Our first impression is you voting against the presidential election?

Dear Representative Obernolte,

Congratulations on your win for our district, CA-08.

The 2020 presidential election has turned into a divisive topic. In the face of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, many states made changes to their election proceedings in the interest of the health of their people. As you pointed out in a statement to Congress, some of these states made these changes without the approval of their legislature, and you voted against confirming the election results based on that fact.

Since the election, numerous allegations of election fraud, voter fraud, lost ballots, shredded ballots and more coursed their way through the news cycle and social media. People became concerned about their ballots being counted correctly. When lawsuits were presented in court in attempts to overturn state's results, however, every single one of them were dismissed or withdrawn. Some states attempted to flip other state's results through Supreme Court lawsuits that would, if judged in their favor, would have set a disastrous precedent for future elections.

Audits and recounts both confirmed initial results for every state and county they occurred in. Secretaries of State from both parties confirmed the election results for their states, many of them stating that their elections ran with a higher-than-usual level of security. Attorney General Barr made a statement confirming that there was no widespread election fraud. Former Department of Homeland Security director Christopher Krebs also made a statement confirming the elections were secure, and was possibly fired because of it.

I understand that your reasoning to not confirm the 2020 presidential election results is based on the fact that other states' voting procedures changed without the approval of their legislative parties. If the voting procedures were changed without an emergent reason, I would understand why you would cast your vote this way. If the new voting procedures were proven to be fraudulent in any meaningful way in any of our fifty states, I would also understand why you would cast your vote this way.

But the procedures were changed with cause, and the elections were secure. Not only that, but the changes made to the states you objected to (Arizona and Pennsylvania), were also made to many other states. Where were your objections then?

I hope to hear a more detailed reason why you felt the elections in these two states warranted your objection, which can now be used to continue to divide the country as another name in the hat against certifying the -- until actually proven otherwise -- fair presidential election results.

UPDATE: I got a response!

Dear Mr. Erickson, Thank you for contacting my office regarding the certification of the 2020 Presidential election. I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts on this critical issue.

The 2020 election took place under very unusual circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While most states worked within their own laws to carry out the election in a safe and secure manner, a select few had significant changes made to their election processes through unilateral court, or executive actions, without approval from their state legislatures. This is in direct violation of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 and Article 1, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution that gives state legislatures sole authority over how their presidential elections are conducted. On January 3, 2020, I took an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and I had very serious concerns over these two states' election aberrations.

Our great state of California is a contrasting example. Prior to the November election, Governor Newsom issued an executive order that required vote-by-mail ballots to be sent to all registered voters. This action was subsequently ruled an unconstitutional exercise of executive power. The California legislature was then able to work with Governor Newsom to make legislative changes consistent with the Governor's goals (an action that I supported). This is the constitutionally appropriate manner in which election laws can and should be changed. Unfortunately, not all states followed those rules. As a result, I supported the objection of certifying electoral college results in the House of Representatives for two states, which if the objections were passed, would have given those states the opportunity to go back and reassess before re-submitting their electoral college results to Congress. It is also important to note that even if the objections I supported were upheld, the 31 electoral votes that would have been invalidated would not have been sufficient to change the overall outcome of the election and Joe Biden would still have been declared president.

This was not a partisan decision; it was one I made with the highest respect for the tradition of the rule of law in our democracy. I'm disappointed that I was not given the opportunity to also object to the electors from North Carolina, a state that Donald Trump won which had similar constitutional issues. Our government is by the people and for the people. It is imperative that decisions about our elections are made through constitutional processes and with the input of the people's elected state legislatures.

Regardless, I readily acknowledge Joe Biden is the duly elected and legitimate President-elect of the United States of America and I look forward to working with his administration to tackle the serious problems facing our nation.

Thank you again for contacting me. Your thoughts and opinions are of critical importance to me as I work to represent California's 8th District in Congress. I sincerely appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely,

Rep. Jay Obernolte

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