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Every four years, Congress convenes to count presidential
electoral votes. In recent years, members of Congress have
objected or attempted to object to the counting of electoral votes
on the ground that those votes were not “regularly given.” That
language comes from the Electoral Count Act of 1887. But the
phrase “regularly given” is a term of art, best understood as
“cast pursuant to law.” It refers to controversies that arise after
the appointment of presidential electors, when electors cast
their votes and send them to Congress. Yet members of Congress
have incorrectly used the objection to challenge an assortment
of pre-appointment controversies that concern the underlying
election itself. This Essay identifies the proper meaning of the
phrase “regularly given,” articulates the narrow universe of
appropriate objections within that phrase, and highlights why
the failure to object with precision ignores constraints on
congressional power.

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