Congress’ certification of electoral college votes is typically met with little fanfare, but this year, the event has taken on increased importance, as a group of Republican lawmakers have announced plans to object to the certification process. These Republicans cite President Trump‘s baseless assertion that the election was fraudulent, a claim that has been repeatedly dismissed by election officials and federal judges, as evidence of the need for votes on the issue in the Democrat-controlled House and GOP-controlled Senate.
While these votes are likely to fail, the drama surrounding today’s Congressional joint session has turned it into a must-watch event for political junkies. What time is the electoral college certification? Can I watch Congress count electoral college votes? Consider this your guide to all things electoral college certification.
WHEN IS THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE COUNT?
Congress will hold a joint session today, Wednesday, January 6, to count electoral votes and certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. This meeting is required by the Constitution, which requires that bipartisan representatives from both the Senate and the House read the results out loud. As directed by the Constitution, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the meeting and declare the winner.
WHAT TIME DOES CONGRESS MEET TODAY?
Today’s joint meeting begins at 1 p.m. ET.
CONGRESS COUNTS ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES: HOW TO WATCH ON TV
Given the importance of today’s Congressional session, a variety of different news networks will be broadcasting live from the Capitol, including MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, C-Span, and more. Each network will begin special event coverage at a different time (for example, MSNBC’s begins at 9 a.m. ET), so if you want to get a head start, be sure to check your listings. However, the bulk of the day’s programming will get going at 1 p.m. ET, so as long as you’re ready at that time, you should be good.
HOW TO WATCH CONGRESS CERTIFY THE ELECTION LIVE ONLINE
Cord-cutters have quite a few options to watch the electoral college certification this afternoon. Political junkies can watch their favorite cable news networks with an active subscription to Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, or fuboTV, all of which offer free trials for new customers.
Additionally, you can also watch today’s joint session on ABC News Live, CBS News, NBC News Now, Peacock, or The Roku Channel, all of which are free to stream. These services can be accessed on a variety of different devices, including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and mobile. You can also stream them live on YouTube — check out CBS News’ coverage when it goes live at 12:30 p.m. ET below.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE IS CHALLENGED?
As the AP explains, any member of Congress can object to a state’s electoral college votes on any grounds, and if a written, signed objection is presented by both a member of the House and the Senate, the presiding officer has to hear the objection. At that point, the joint session is suspended, and both chambers conduct a vote to sustain it. In order for the objection to affect the results, a majority in both chambers must agree; if not, the original electoral votes are counted with no changes.
WHAT HAPPENS IF CONGRESS OBJECTS TO THE ELECTION TODAY?
With the above description in mind, it is very unlikely that anything meaningful will happen if certain members of Congress object to the election certification. As of this morning, only about a dozen Republican senators have announced plans to object to swing states’ (including Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia) electoral college votes, which is not enough to capture a majority of the chamber. In the House, more than 100 GOP lawmakers are expected to object, but that figure is not enough to achieve a majority in the 435-person legislative body, either.
As a result, it’s likely that the objection will fail in both chambers, and these states’ electoral college votes will be counted in favor of their winner, Joe Biden.
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