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How Congress will count Electoral College votes

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The congressional rely is the ultimate step in reaffirming Biden’s presidential win, once more, after the Electoral Faculty formally elected him on Dec. 14.

WASHINGTON — Wednesday’s congressional joint session to rely electoral votes has taken on added significance this yr as congressional Republicans allied with President Donald Trump are pledging to try to undo Democrat Joe Biden’s victory and subvert the desire of the American folks.

The Republicans — a dozen senators and plenty of extra Home members — are citing Trump’s repeated, baseless fees of widespread fraud. They are saying they are going to formally object to the outcomes, forcing votes within the Republican-run Senate and the Democratic-controlled Home that may nearly actually fail.

There was not widespread fraud within the election, as has been confirmed by a spread of election officers and by William Barr, who stepped down as legal professional basic final month. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers promising to object to the rely have offered credible proof that may change the result.

Almost the entire authorized challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. The Supreme Court docket, which incorporates three Trump-nominated justices, has additionally denied requests to listen to a pair of instances geared toward invalidating the result of the election in key battleground states.

The congressional assembly on Jan. 6 is the ultimate step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral Faculty formally elected him on Dec 14. The assembly is required by the Structure and contains a number of distinct steps. 

RELATED: Sen. Hawley says he’ll object to Electoral Faculty outcomes subsequent week

RELATED: VERIFY: Can Congress reject Electoral Faculty votes?

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A take a look at the joint session:


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

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 session begins at 1 p.m. EST.


The Structure requires Congress to satisfy and rely 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 collectively noon to rely the votes . If the vp can’t preside, there may be precedent for the Senate pro-tempore, or the longest-serving senator within the majority get together, to guide the session. That’s presently 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 the Home and Senate, members of each events, then learn every certificates out loud and document and rely the votes. On the finish, the presiding officer pronounces who has received the bulk votes for each president and vp.


After a teller reads the certificates from a state, any member can rise up and object to that state’s vote on any grounds. However the presiding officer is not going to hear the objection until 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 request, then the joint session suspends and the Home and Senate go into separate periods to think about 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 with no adjustments.

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

RELATED: Bipartisan opposition grows towards Republican lawmakers disputing Biden win

RELATED: 11 Republican senators, led by Cruz, be part of problem to Biden’s Electoral Faculty win


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 personal 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 will go down like a shot canine.” Thune stated it didn’t make sense to place senators by way of a vote when “you already know what the last word consequence 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 spread of election officers and by William Barr, who stepped down as legal professional basic final week.


Dozens of Home Republicans and a smaller group of GOP senators are anticipated to object to the rely from some swing states the place Trump has alleged fraud, regardless of the consensus of nonpartisan election officers and even Trump’s former legal professional basic that there was none. Not one of the members have offered detailed proof and none of them objected to the swearing-in of congressional lawmakers who received election on the identical ballots.

Within the Senate, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley was the primary to say he would be part of with the Home Republicans. On Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a coalition of 11 extra senators who vowed to vote towards unspecified state electors on Wednesday until Congress appoints an electoral fee to instantly conduct an audit of the election outcomes. Hawley and Cruz are each amongst potential 2024 presidential contenders.

The challenges have break up the get together. Senate Republican Chief Mitch McConnell has urged his colleagues to not object, saying final month on a personal name that the vote could be “horrible.”

A number of different Senate Republicans have criticized the hassle as effectively, together with Texas Sen. John Cornyn and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican. Thune stated final month that any objections will go down “like a shot canine” within the Senate.

On Sunday, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse stated the problem is “‘dangerous for the nation and dangerous for the get together.”


Pence’s position is essentially ceremonial and he has no energy to have an effect on the result, regardless of Trump’s needs on the contrary.

The position of the vp as presiding officer is commonly an ungainly one, as will probably be for Pence, who shall be charged with asserting Biden’s victory — and his personal defeat — as soon as the electoral votes are counted.

Pence received’t be the primary vp put in an uncomfortable state of affairs. 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 2017, Biden presided over the rely 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 likelihood for objections, past courtroom instances which have to this point confirmed ineffective for Trump and his crew.

“I feel there comes a time when you need to notice that, regardless of your finest efforts you’ve been unsuccessful,” Cornyn stated earlier this month.

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.


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