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Long Island Republican Rep. Zeldin Maintains Objection To Electoral College Votes

In this image from video, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) said he will vote against impeaching President Donald Trump.
House Television via AP
In this image from video, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., speaks as the House reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) remained unchanged Wednesday in his intent to object to the certification of electoral college votes, and did so just before 10 p.m. — hours after a violent mob of President Trump supporters stormed the House floor.

Federal lawmakers, including Zeldin, were evacuated to safe rooms, while police, federal agents and National Guard, secured U.S. Capitol. The insurrection and motions to object by eight senators and 139 representatives ultimately failed as Congress ratified Democrat Joe Biden as president.

Four of the House lawmakers hailed from New York — Zeldin, freshman Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs of Orchard Park, freshman Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, and Republican Elise Stafanik of Schuylerville, who just began her fourth term. None of the Connecticut delegation — all Democrats — objected.

Back on the House floor, Zeldin continued to make false statements that there was confirmed evidence of election irregularities in certain battleground states to steal the election from Trump.

Zeldin echoed Trump's general false claims that poll watchers were banned from legally observing the counting of ballots. Zeldin referred to ballots in the battleground state of Pennsylvanna, where the count played out in front of the cameras in real time.

A state judge granted Trump campaign officials a court order after hearing complaints that Republican observers in Philidephlia could not get close enough to the mail-in ballot count. City election officials appealed the decision, however moved barriers to comply with the order.

"There were poll watchers denied the ability to closely observe ballot counting operation," Zeldin said.

A federal court in Philadelphia later denied a Trump campaign effort to stop the vote count over the access issues. The judge allowed each party 60 observers where ballots were being counted.

More than 60 court cases filed by Trump and over 100 Republican members of Congress have found no reports of systematic irregularities with poll watchers anywhere in the U.S. There is no evidence supporting claims that poll watchers were shut out of the process.

Still, Zeldin blamed rogue election officials who made unconstitutional changes to election law in their states without seeking legislative approval. He said his objection is within his right, as Democrats took the same process against Trump in 2017 and Republican President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2005.

Zeldin served on the legal team to defend Trump from impeachment last year.

Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), who was sworn-in this week to represent New York’s 2nd Congressional District, did not object.

“The role of Congress is not to overturn the election or to take actions that silence voters,” said Garbarino in a statement. “The Constitution is clear, the votes must be counted and certified by the states and Congress has the constitutional obligation to accept those electors and certify each states’ elections.

“While I join many Long Islanders in wishing the results were different, Congress does not have the constitutional authority to overturn an election,” he continued.

Garbarino is taking the seat of retired Congressman Peter King, a moderate Republican and lukewarm supporter of Trump. King called on Trump to “step up and denounce the terrorists who desecrate our nation’s Capitol.”

Garbarino, Zeldin, and the entire New York Congressional Delegation condemned the violence in the U.S. Capitol. Zeldin said the republic elects people to voice objections in the Capitol, and there is a zero-tolerance for violence. Garbarino called the attack un-American and a direct threat to democracy.

Starting Wednesday with over 140 in opposition, some Republicans who planned on objecting reversed their positions after the Capitol was stormed, including Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who lost reelection to Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia's Senate runoff on Tuesday.

She said she could not "in good conscience" follow through on objecting to Biden's presidency, even after promising Trump in person at a rally this week that she would object.

"When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes. However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now, in good conscience, object," said Loeffler said.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.