Congress Counts Electoral College Votes on Wednesday

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Congress Counts Electoral College Votes on Wednesday

On Wednesday the members of Congress will meet in a joint session to count the votes cast by electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. While this is usually a session with little drama, some Republicans this year are planning on objecting to the votes by electors in a handful of states.


Under the Constitution and federal law, the House of Representatives and the Senate must meet in a joint session to count electoral votes. The vice president presides and opens the votes, announcing the tally. In most years, this is a pro forma session, with little being done but ratifying the votes that were cast. 


Members of Congress do have the power to object to a single electoral vote or a slate of electoral votes, however. To do so, they must present an objection to the vice president and that objection must be signed by both a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. If this occurs, then each house meets in its own chambers to debate the objection for 2 hours. They then vote on sustaining the objection. Both houses must vote in favor of rejecting the electoral vote or votes in order for the attempt to be successful.


Some Democratic members of the House of Representatives attempted to do so in 2001, but no senators signed. In 1968 and 2005, there were successful objections but neither house of Congress voted to throw out the votes.


This year, Republicans from the House and Senate have said they would object to votes in states where there are allegations of fraud or disputes about the election practices. Members have different arguments in favor of their actions, from complaints about fraudulent votes or arguments that state legislatures, not courts or governors, should set election practices. Regardless of their rationale, these efforts will likely lead to multiple meetings of the House and Senate to vote on accepting or rejecting electoral votes.


Given the Democratic control of the House of Representatives and many Republican senators who have said they would not support these objections, it is almost certain that Congress will eventually accept the contested electoral votes. 


Do you think that Congress should reject electoral votes in states where Republicans say there was fraud or irregularities?

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