• Tusitala Staff

Causes of the Capitol Hill riot on January 6th, 2021

[This article is co-authored by freshman Phoebe Zeidberg, sophomore Beining Wu, junior Romi Fernandez Riviello.]


The initial motives for the riot at the Capitol can mainly be linked to the coronavirus pandemic causing a demand for much greater use of voting by mail-in ballot. A controversial change, this led some Trump supporters to demand investigation of election results, ultimately leading to rioters storming the capitol on 1/6/21 hoping to pressure lawmakers to investigate the election.

This election was like no other, largely because of the major increase in the number of ballots sent by mail due to the Covid-19 pandemic — this caused many issues. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), some states did not put in place adequate measures to deal with the increase in demand for mail-in voting. Each state has different electoral rules, including those regarding the counting of absentee ballots. The rejection rate for absentee ballots appears to be low: According to the US Election Assistance Commission, it is less than 1%.

The mailed ballots took longer to process and count, delaying reporting of results. Americans accustomed to hearing election results on election night found the delay frustrating — and sometimes suspicious. However, Edward B. Foley, an Ohio State University constitutional law professor, commented, "There are no official results on Election Night — there never have been." Official results never arrive until days — and sometimes weeks — after election day.

Major legal cases regarding the election include:

  • Washington v. Trump, “Whether recent changes announced to the United States Postal Service violate federal administrative rulemaking requirements and infringe upon the rights of states to regulate elections under the Constitution,”

  • Pennsylvania Democratic Party v. Boockvar, “Whether a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requiring the state to count mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day, as long as they are not clearly postmarked after Election Day, violates federal election law and the Constitution,”

  • Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Boockvar, “Whether a number of Pennsylvania elections accommodations in light of the coronavirus pandemic – providing additional drop-off sites and alleviating signature-matching requirements for absentee ballots, as well as lifting a restriction on employing out-of-county poll workers — violate state election law and the U.S. Constitution,” SCOTUS blog summarizes.

The politicians on Capitol Hill declared Joe Biden officially president-elect after the lockdown caused by the pro-Trump riot. “The Senate voted 93 to 6 to dismiss the objection raised by Republicans to Arizona's results, and 92 to 7 to reject the objection to Pennsylvania,” CNN reports. The Electoral College vote count by Congress is a typical event in affirming the President-elect, however, this year was made difficult due to lawsuits and objections by members of Congress to the manner of conducting and counting election results.

On the day that the election would be ratified, Trump held a rally and told his supporters, “We are going to walk down to the capital and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women… because you will never take back our country with weakness… We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard today we will see whether republicans stand strong for the integrity of our elections or whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country.”

From there many supporters marched to the Capitol. Many stayed and peacefully protested. They waved Trump, American, Blue-lives matter, and most notably, Confederate flags. They yelled slogans such as “Stop the Steal.” However, many stormed the capitol, causing a lockdown for the government officials in the building at the time.

The world watched as the supposed election scandal continued to unfold up to when President Biden was sworn in on the 20th.


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