• Description

The U.S. Congress rarely overturns elections to either of its chambers. Legislators tend to follow a norm of deference to election results lawfully submitted by states. This longstanding norm is the product of the Constitution, federal law, and habit. Yet, on January 6, 2021, the national legislature flirted with violating that norm and denying the presidency to Joseph Biden based on spurious claims of electoral fraud. Fortunately, legislators from both parties forged strong majorities to uphold the norm and subsequently reaffirmed it during Congress's review of a disputed Iowa congressional election. Viewing these events closely reveals both that those who sought to discard or uphold a norm argued from within the American democratic tradition and that partisan calculations were paramount.

A Democratic Norm Endures January 6th: Congress and Deference to States’ Election Certifications