There’ll Be Time Enough for Counting When the Dealing’s Done

While we know Congress will eventually reject Republican objections to several states’ electoral counts and will certify the election results for President-Elect Joe Biden, several outstanding questions remain less than 24 hours before the process kicks off. 

Four things we know:

1. Vice President Pence is expected to preside over a Joint Session of Congress in House chambers and will call the state-by-state roll of election results.

2. A Trump-allied lawmaker will likely submit a written objection over the results from one or more states.

3. Upon objection the joint session is suspended, senators withdraw from the House and each chamber meets separately to debate the objection and vote whether to count the electoral votes in question. Debate on the objection is limited to two hours, with members allowed to speak only once for no more than five minutes.

4. Congress would then reconvene for the Joint Session, report their vote results and proceed to the next state in the roll call. A majority of both chambers must vote to reject the electoral count for the state in question.

Four things we don’t know:

1. How many states will Republicans object to? News reports indicate Republican members are focusing on Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

2. Which Republican members will vote to object to which states?  

3. How long will this process go on? In a letter to her caucus, Speaker Pelosi indicated the process could stretch out into Wednesday evening and perhaps beyond. Watch for whether two-hour objections are considered state-by-state rather than jointly.

4. Finally, what role will Vice President Pence play in the proceedings? There is still some uncertainty about whether and how long he will preside. Although most legal scholars indicate his role is rather limited, President Trump has been openly pressuring him to help overturn the results.