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Editorials represent the institutional view of the newspaper. They are written and edited by the editorial staff, which operates separately from the news department. Editorial writers are not involved in newsroom operations.

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Editorial: This is bigger than Trump. Reject the election challenge charade.

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Republican congressional candidate Nancy Mace and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham fist bump at an October get-out-the-vote rally in North Charleston. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace made the right and honorable decision. Last week, the new 1st District representative announced that she will not join a small group of rebellious GOP lawmakers, including fellow South Carolina U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Joe Wilson and William Timmons, in support of President Donald Trump’s attempt to get Congress to overturn the certified results of the 2020 presidential election.

“I am not going to vote to overturn the results of the Electoral College because I do not believe that Congress knows better than voters or better than the states,” she told The Post and Courier's Thomas Novelly.

While U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham professed his respect for a dozen Senate colleagues who have declared they will oppose the outcome of Wednesday’s pro-forma joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes, he also issued a statement Sunday saying: “My colleagues will have the opportunity to make this case, and I will listen closely. But they have a high bar to clear.”

Sen. Graham added that President Trump’s demand for a commission to review charges of fraud during the election “has zero chance of becoming reality” and “appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy“ for alleged irregularities during the election.

In the two months since the election, Republican-appointed judges have heard dozens of claims about voting fraud or irregularities and quickly dismissed them. Claims are not proof, and proof continues to be lacking. 

Sen. Graham has been one of Mr. Trump's most ardent defenders, but he accurately put his finger on the nature of the complaints when he called them “political.”

Challenges in Congress to the decisions of the Electoral College are not uncommon, but they have never been successful. The rules, as set forth in a December report by the Congressional Research Service, require the members of Wednesday's joint session to listen to the official count and record any disagreements. But lawmakers are not allowed to debate the issue or to vote decisively against the count. 

In a poignant moment during such a session in 2001, Vice President Al Gore, the defeated Democratic presidential nominee, had to silence the passionate objections to the outcome by Democratic members of the Florida delegation. Democrats also used the joint session to challenge the outcome of the 2004 election.

Any objections at the joint session Wednesday must be voted on in separate House and Senate sessions requiring a majority vote to succeed. There is no way the current campaign against the outcome of the presidential election can succeed in winning such a vote.

Mr. Trump’s outspoken efforts to overturn the results could be likened to baseball fans booing the umpire and yelling, “We wuz robbed.”  When it's simply an exercise in venting, it's unsportsmanlike behavior.

But what we have seen since November, and what we expect to see on Wednesday, goes far beyond venting. Since it has become clear that there were no significant election irregularities and that election results will stand, Wednesday's planned actions must be seen not as an effort to change who the next president will be but to undermine his legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and to convince voters that our nation's election system cannot be trusted. This dangerous attempt to undermine the foundations of our republic is particularly shameful coming after an election that has been more thoroughly vetted than any in our nation's history. 

Mr. Graham, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep. Tom Rice should join Rep. Mace in refusing to be part of what has become more than simply a stunt to avoid disappointing Mr. Trump and some of their credulous constituents.

So should Reps. Duncan, Norman, Wilson and Timmons, who — like S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson last month — are embarrassing themselves and our state by participating in such an undertaking.

Mr. Trump lost. Narrowly, but decisively, and he cannot prove otherwise.

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