Today Congress will meet in a joint session to certify the electoral college votes. It’s expected to be a lengthier process than usual, with several lawmakers planning to file objections. The meeting begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday, January 6, 2020. Read on to learn more about the process and watch live right here.
Vice President Mike Pence Will Preside Over the Meeting & Several Lawmakers Are Planning to Reject Votes in Key States
Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the joint session of Congress as president of the Senate. He has limited powers, which are detailed in the Electoral Count Act of 1887. He is not granted power to overturn the election or reject fraudulently chosen electors.
The Electoral Count Act of 1887 was enacted because of a previous intervention, dating back to 1857. After James Buchanan’s presidential win that year, the Senate president overruled an objection against Wisconsin electors because their certification process had been delayed due to a a snowstorm in 1856, according to The Washington Post.
The act says the President of the Senate – who is Pence in this case – will preside over the meeting. The Senate President’s role is to open certified electoral votes and give them to appointed tellers in alphabetical order by state. The tellers then read the votes, make a list of the votes, and hand them back to Pence. Pence calls for any objections. If any are made, the House and Senate meet separately to come to a decision. Once the decision is made, Pence announces that decision.
A member of Congress can make an objection for any reason, however, the objection must be submitted in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. Following the meetings of both chambers, the House and Senate must both agree to the objection by a majority vote for the objection to be sustained. The original electoral vote will otherwise stand, the Electoral Count Act of 1887 says.
Among those expected to submit objections are Rep. John Joyce, R-Altoona.
“Today I signed the official objection to the Pennsylvania electors ahead of tomorrow’s Electoral College certification vote,” he wrote on Twitter. “We must fight for free and fair elections – and the rule of law.”
Live Streams for the Electoral College Certification & Joint Session of Congress
Several news outlets are live streaming the meeting of Congress. The C-SPAN live stream begins at 12:35 p.m. Eastern time. It requires viewers to log in with their TV provider.
The NPR live stream begins at 1 p.m. Eastern time. The outlet is also posting live updates all day.
CBS will also live stream the meeting beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter and president of the Campaign Legal Center and Professor Charles Fried of Harvard_Law School, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, wrote about expected objections to Biden electoral votes in key states in an opinion piece published in the New York Times, “The Electoral College Isn’t Supposed to Work This Way.”
“This, in theory, could result in a deadlock that could be broken by the House voting — with one vote for each state delegation — for president, resulting in the election of Donald Trump to a second term after losing in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. The fact that Democrats hold a majority in the House makes this outcome unlikely, of course, but it is a viable gambit for future elections,” the article said.