The final step in the election process before the presidential inauguration is Jan. 6, when Congress meets in a joint session to count and certify states’ Electoral College votes.
Here’s how the special joint session is expected to play out.
At 1 p.m. on Jan. 6, the House and Senate will convene together, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding. He will open the results submitted by each state and pass them to appointed tellers to read aloud.
Pence’s role is largely ceremonial and the entire process has historically proceeded quickly.
However, several Republican lawmakers have said that they will object to the results of the 2020 election, meaning that certification could take longer.
“I will lead an objection to Georgia’s electors on Jan. 6,” GOP Rep. Jody Hice tweeted last week.
“The courts refuse to hear the President’s legal case. We’re going to make sure the People can!” he added, referring to multiple Trump-backed election lawsuits that have been rejected by U.S. courts.
He was echoed by Georgia Representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who tweeted that she would “refuse to certify a fraudulent election” and would also object on Jan. 6.
In order for an objection to be officially considered by Congress, at least one member of the House and Senate must submit one in writing.
Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville has hinted that he will do so.
And on Wednesday, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said in a statement that he would object because “some states, including notably Pennsylvania” did not follow their own election laws.
“At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections,” Hawley said.
If at least one member from each chamber objects, then the House and Senate will separately debate for a maximum of two hours, according to Congressional Research Service, with members granted five minutes each to make their case.
After debate, each chamber will vote, with a simple majority needed for the objection to succeed.
Any vote, however, is all but certain to fail. Democrats have a narrow House majority, and GOP Senate leadership has cautioned Republicans against objecting to the election results.
“It’s just not going anywhere,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune said regarding any congressional attempt to overturn the election. “It’s going down like a shot dog.”
Congressional objections have happened as recently as 2005, when Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs and Sen. Barbara Boxer objected to Ohio’s results, which showed a narrow win for former President George W. Bush. Both chambers overwhelmingly rejected their objection.
Several Democrats objected to President Donald Trump’s win in 2017, but did not ultimately submit objections in writing after being shot down by then-Vice President Joe Biden.