How Congress will count Electoral College votes

How Congress will count Electoral College votes

WASHINGTON – The congressional joint session to depend electoral votes is usually a routine, ceremonious affair. However President Donald Trump’s repeated, baseless efforts to problem Democrat Joe Biden’s victory will deliver extra consideration than typical to subsequent Wednesday’s joint session of the Senate and the Home.

The congressional depend is the ultimate step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral School formally elected him on Dec 14. The assembly is required by the Structure and contains a number of distinct steps.

Republicans who’re echoing Trump’s baseless claims of fraud have stated they may formally object to the outcomes, forcing votes within the Republican-run Senate and the Democratic-controlled Home that may virtually definitely fail. A gaggle of Home Republicans had been searching for a senator to signal on as a result of there should be help from at the very least one member of every chamber to pressure the votes. That help got here Wednesday from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a doable contender within the 2024 GOP presidential main.

Hawley’s problem comes regardless of a plea from Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell that Republican senators not be part of the futile Home effort. McConnell informed his caucus on a non-public name earlier this month that it could be a “horrible vote” for Senate Republicans to need to take.

A take a look at the joint session:


Underneath federal legislation, Congress should meet Jan. 6 to open sealed certificates from every state that include a report of their electoral votes. The votes are introduced into the chamber in mahogany packing containers.

Bipartisan representatives of each chambers learn the outcomes out loud and do an official depend. The president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence, presides over the session and declares the winner.


The Structure requires Congress to satisfy and depend the electoral votes. If there’s a tie, then the Home decides the presidency, with every congressional delegation having one vote. That hasn’t occurred for the reason that 1800s, and Biden’s electoral win over Trump was decisive, 306-232.


The 2 chambers meet noon to depend the votes. If the vice chairman can’t preside, there may be precedent for the Senate pro-tempore, or the longest-serving senator within the majority occasion, to guide the session. That’s at present Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

The presiding officer opens and presents the certificates of the electoral votes in alphabetical order of the states. The appointed “tellers” from every chamber, members of each events, then learn every certificates out loud. The tellers report and depend the votes, The presiding officer declares who has received the bulk votes for each president and vice chairman.


After a teller reads the certificates from a state, any member can arise and object to that state’s vote on any grounds. However the presiding officer is not going to hear the objection except it’s in writing and signed by each a member of the Home and a member of the Senate.

If there may be such a joint request, then the joint session suspends and the Home and Senate go into separate classes to contemplate it. For the objection to be sustained, each chambers should conform to it by a easy majority vote. If they don’t each agree, the unique electoral votes are counted.

The final time such an objection was thought-about was 2005, when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, each Democrats, objected to Ohio’s electoral votes by claiming there have been voting irregularities. Each chambers debated the objection and rejected it. It was solely the second time such a vote had occurred.


It is extraordinarily unlikely, provided that the Home is managed by Democrats and that a number of Senate Republicans, together with McConnell, have acknowledged Biden’s victory. McConnell requested his fellow Republican senators on the non-public name Dec. 15 to not take part any Home objection.

A number of different high-ranking Republicans agreed. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, stated earlier this month that if the Senate have been compelled to vote on a problem “it could go down like a shot canine.” Thune stated it didn’t make sense to place senators by means of a vote when “ what the last word end result is gonna be.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, stated any such effort by congressional Republicans could be “futile” and a mistake.

There was no widespread fraud within the election, as has been confirmed by a variety of election officers and by William Barr, who stepped down as legal professional basic final week.


The function of the vice chairman as presiding officer is usually an ungainly one, as it will likely be for Pence, who will likely be charged with asserting Biden’s victory — and his personal defeat — as soon as the electoral votes are counted. Will probably be particularly tense for the previous Indiana congressman as a result of his boss, Trump, has refused to concede.

However he received’t be the primary vice chairman put in an uncomfortable scenario. In 2001, Vice President Al Gore presided over the counting of the 2000 presidential election he narrowly misplaced to Republican George W. Bush. Gore needed to gavel a number of Democrats’ objections out of order. In 2016, Biden presided over the depend that declared Trump the winner. Biden additionally shot down objections from Home Democrats that didn’t have any Senate help.


The joint session is the final official probability for objections, past court docket circumstances which have up to now confirmed ineffective for Trump and his crew.

“I feel there comes a time when it’s a must to understand that, regardless of your greatest efforts you’ve been unsuccessful,” Cornyn stated earlier this month.


AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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