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Contested Election Sows Divide Among GOP Lawmakers; Chicago Election Attorney Calls It 'A Dramatic, Dramatic Line In The Sand'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- This week, a growing number of national Republican lawmakers have pledged to take their final stand to contest presidential election results.

Despite no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud, 11 U.S. senators and around 140 House Republicans are expected to vote against the Electoral College count slated for Wednesday.

And as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and the rest of the 117th Congress raise their hands and swear in for 2021, the next step in the general election between President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump looms right around the corner.

On Wednesday, an official count of electoral votes will be conducted at a joint session of Congress – a tradition, and law, that started over a century ago. State by state, congressmen and senators will be given the chance to object to their state's results – which historically does not happen often.

But this year is a wildcard.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has led the charge of roughly a dozen senators who are not only calling to object to the vote certifications, but are also asking to hold an emergency 10-day audit instead.

CBS 2's Marissa Parra asked veteran Chicago election attorney Burt Odelson what the likelihood is that an objection will be granted.

"I think the likelihood is practically zero," Odelson said.

Democrats like Sen. Durbin have, as expected, come out swinging. Before his swearing-in ceremony, the senator released a joint statement asking Congress to move forward and respect "the will of the American people."

But most notable is the rift within the GOP – something we're seeing play out on a local level.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has repeatedly taken to Twitter to debunk conspiracy theories surrounding voter fraud, stepping up Sunday morning to plead that Congress uphold the election results.



Shortly afterward, someone changed Kinzinger's Wikipedia page to say he is a "Republican in name only." For the record, Kinzinger's Wikipedia page was changed back shortly after that happened, but it speaks to the growing divide among Republicans when it comes to supporting President Trump and his false election fraud claims.

"I see this as a dramatic, dramatic line in the sand for the Republican Party: those who want to follow in the Trump means of governing and trying to garner his supporters, and those who want to govern in the manner our founders set forth for us," Odelson said.

Odelson is no stranger to contested elections. Remember George W. Bush vs. Al Gore in 2000? He had a front row seat for that.

A Florida newspaper photo from Nov. 29, 2000 shows Odelson holding up a ballot weeks after Election Day, working as a consultant for the Bush legal team.

The public had to wait weeks to find out who would be their president. There were recounts and it went to court, but there is a key difference between then and now.

"There was no cries of fraud, phony – everything was proved. It went to court multiple times," Odelson said. "Remember, George Bush won Florida by 537 votes - 537 votes out of millions cast. So that was a real hardcore recount that meant something."

And whereas the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush, Odelson said, "Of over the 50 cases that have been filed by the Trump supporters, none – none – have been successful."

Parra asked Odelson if the events following the 2020 election makes him worried when it comes to public trust in the election and the U.S. Constitution.

"Actually, I am worried," he said. "We have here a challenge to our democracy, because democracy has said Biden got 81 million, Trump got 74 million. That should be the end of the story."

President-elect Biden is set to be sworn in Jan. 20 on his inauguration.

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