How to watch today's Electoral College count in the Senate and House

The joint session of Congress is expected to certify the results of November's presidential election.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
3 min read

The House and Senate will meet in a joint session Wednesday to count the Electoral College votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, but not before a sizable group of Republican lawmakers object.

Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Political watchers fresh off of following Tuesday night's Georgia Senate runoff shift their eyes to the nation's capital on Wednesday. In a joint session of Congress, the Electoral College votes from November's presidential election will be certified. Normally considered a routine and largely uneventful affair in which the votes are tallied and then certified by the vice president -- who is the president of the Senate -- recent events suggest today's vote may be anything but. 

Due to President Donald Trump's continued contesting of the election results, a number of Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, have said in recent days they plan to object to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win. Per Bloomberg, at least a dozen Republican senators and "as many as 50 House Republicans" have said they will object to the electoral results of some of the states won by Biden. This includes the tight races in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Here is how you can follow along. 

What time is the joint session and how can I watch? 

The joint session will begin at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). A number of news outlets will cover the proceedings, either on TV or online, including PBS Newshour, which is embedded below for both the House of Representatives view and the Senate view. 

House view: 

Senate view: 

Who presides over the joint session? 

Vice President Mike Pence is set to preside over the session. According to PBS, the role the vice president plays is "usually scripted," where he announces the procedures and final results of the votes. 

The electoral votes are read one by one from each state in alphabetical order. However, as PBS notes, "If at least one House member and one Senator object to any state electoral count, the joint session will immediately pause." 

What happens if there is an objection? 

If there is an objection, the chambers separate and can hold up to two hours of debate on that state's electoral count, per PBS. After the debate, the chambers vote on the objection and then return to the session and continue counting the votes where they left off. 

To reject a vote the majority of both the Senate and the House must vote to rebuff it. 

How long will this take? 

The focus right now is on the six tightly contested swing states. If objections happen for those six states, PBS speculates it would lead to between 18 and 24 hours of debate. Any additional objections by Republicans would add up to two more hours of debate per state. 

Bloomberg reports that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues that the process could go through "the middle of the night" before it is resolved. 

Will objecting change the result of the election? 

According to law experts cited by Bloomberg, today's proceedings likely will fail as the Democrats control the House and a number of Republicans have already acknowledged that Biden won the election. 

The outlet notes that Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the current Senate majority whip, said last month that any attempts to try and object to the electoral count would "go down like a shot dog in the Senate."

What does President Trump have to say? 

Trump has remained vocal on Twitter that Pence has the power to overturn the electoral college results, tweeting Wednesday about what he wants Pence to do, even if law experts say the VP doesn't have the power. 

Twitter has labeled many of the president's tweets, including the two above, noting that Trump's "claim about election fraud is disputed."