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Political spectators who have just begun the departure of the Georgia Senate on Tuesday night will turn their gaze to the country’s capital on Wednesday. In a joint session of Congress, the votes of the electoral college will be certified for the November presidential election. Normally considered a routine and largely tedious affair in which the votes are counted and then certified by the vice president – who is the president of the Senate – recent events suggest that today’s vote could be anything but.
Due to President Donald Trump’s ongoing contestation of election results, a number of Republicans, including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, have said in recent days that they intend to object to President-elect Joe’s certification. Biden’s win. At least a dozen Republican senators and “as many as 50 House Republicans” have said they will object to the election results of some of the states won by Biden, according to Bloomberg. This includes the tight races in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Here’s how you can track.
What time is the joint session and how can I watch?
The joint session begins at 10 a.m.PT (1 p.m. ET). A number of newscasts will cover the proceedings, both on TV and online, including PBS Newshour, which is embedded below for both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Who chairs the joint session?
Vice President Mike Pence will chair the session. According to PBS, the role the vice president plays is “usually a script,” where he announces the procedures and the final results of the votes.
The election votes are read in alphabetical order from each state. However, as PBS notes, “If at least one member of the House and one senator object to a state election vote, the joint session will be immediately suspended.”
What happens if there is an objection?
If there is an objection, the chambers will separate and can debate the number of votes in that state for up to two hours by PBS. After the debate, the chambers vote on the objection and then return to the session and continue counting where they left off.
To reject a vote, the majority of both the Senate and the House must vote to reject it.
How long will this take?
The focus is now on the six highly controversial swing states. If there are objections to those six states, PBS speculates it would spark 18 to 24 hours of debate. Any additional objections from Republicans would add up to an additional two hours of debate per state.
Bloomberg reports that Democratic House Chair Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues that the process could go “ in the middle of the night ” before resolving it.
Will objection change the outcome of the election?
According to law experts cited by Bloomberg, today’s process is likely to fail, as Democrats control the House and a number of Republicans have already acknowledged that Biden won the election.
The paper notes that Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate’s current majority whip, said last month that any attempt to object to the election figures “would disappear like a shot dog in the Senate.”
What does President Trump have to say?
Trump has continued to say on Twitter that Pence has the power to reverse the electoral college results, tweeting Wednesday about what he wants Pence to do, even as law experts say the VP does not have the power.
Twitter has tagged many of the president’s tweets, including the two above, noting Trump’s “allegation of electoral fraud is disputed.”