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EXPLAINER: How Congress will rely Electoral College votes


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How Congress will rely Electoral College votes

The congressional joint session to rely electoral votes is mostly a routine, ceremonious affair. But 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 House.

The congressional rely is the ultimate step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral College formally elected him on December 14. The assembly is required by the Constitution and contains a number of distinct steps.

Republicans who’re echoing Trump’s baseless claims of fraud have stated they’ll formally object to the outcomes, forcing votes within the Republican-run Senate and the Democratic-controlled House that can virtually definitely fail. A bunch of House Republicans had been in search of a senator to signal on as a result of there should be help from a minimum of one member of every chamber to pressure the votes. That help got here Wednesday from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a potential contender within the 2024 GOP presidential major.

Hawley’s problem comes regardless of a plea from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Republican senators not be a part of the futile House effort. McConnell instructed his caucus on a non-public name earlier this month that it will be a “terrible vote” for Senate Republicans to must take.

A have a look at the joint session:


Under federal regulation, Congress should meet on January 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 rely. The president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence, presides over the session and declares the winner.


The Constitution requires Congress to fulfill and rely the electoral votes. If there’s a tie, then the House 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 two chambers meet noon to rely 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 social gathering, to steer 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 rely the votes, The presiding officer proclaims who has received the bulk votes for each president and vice chairman.


After a teller reads the certificates from a state, any member can get up and object to that state’s vote on any grounds. But the presiding officer won’t hear the objection except it’s in writing and signed by each a member of the House and a member of the Senate.

If there may be such a joint request, then the joint session suspends and the House and Senate go into separate periods to contemplate it. For the objection to be sustained, each chambers should comply with 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. Both chambers debated the objection and rejected it. It was solely the second time such a vote had occurred.


It’s extraordinarily unlikely, on condition that the House 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 personal name on December 15 to not take part any House objection.

Several 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 would go down like a shot dog.” Thune stated it didn’t make sense to place senators by means of a vote when “you know what the ultimate outcome is gonna be.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, stated any such effort by congressional Republicans can 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 lawyer common final week.


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

But 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 rely that declared Trump the winner. Biden additionally shot down objections from House Democrats that didn’t have any Senate help.


The joint session is the final official probability for objections, past courtroom instances which have thus far confirmed ineffective for Trump and his workforce.

“I think there comes a time when you have to realize that, despite your best efforts you’ve been unsuccessful,” Cornyn stated earlier this month.

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