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Electoral ballots 'rescued' as Trump supporters riot at Capitol

The Electoral College ballots were inside the Capitol as Congress was in a joint session to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

As supporters of President Donald Trump violently clashed with law enforcement and stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Senate staffers acted quickly to grab the Electoral College vote certificates on the day Congress convened to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory.

"Electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor," Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore tweeted along with a photo. "If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob."

In what is a Constitutionally-mandated measure, a joint session of Congress convened Wednesday to count the electoral votes. As promised, dozens of House Republicans -- but still a minority of the party's Congressional members -- objected when the state of Arizona was read.

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After members retreated to their respective chambers for the mandated two-hours of debate, rioters -- incited by President Donald Trump's baseless claims that the election was stolen due to widespread fraud -- made their way to the Capitol and forced their way inside.

The pro-Trump supporters were seen fighting with officers both inside the building and outside.

A woman who was shot inside the U.S. Capitol has died. That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the proceedings, was evacuated. House and Senate members were either evacuated or told to shelter in place before they could be taken from the building.

Credit: Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
Electoral College ballots on the floor of the U.S. Senate that were secured after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, Jan. 6, 2021.

As darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials were working their way toward the last holdouts, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible.

Elections officials across the country, the former head of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and former Attorney General William Barr have said there is no indication of widespread fraud on a scale that would change the outcome of the November election. Biden won by 7 million votes over Trump and in the Electoral College by a 306-232 margin.