What to expect as Congress could challenge state's Electoral College votes Wednesday

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 05, 2021

WASINGTON DC — At 1 p.m. Wednesday, the votes of the Electoral College will be marched into a joint session of Congress in grand ceremonial fashion. One by one, each state's results are read aloud.

If just one member of the House and Senate each object to a particular state, "then each body will retire to their respective chamber," said Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH). "They'll have a two-hour debate, they'll be a vote and they'll come back. If there's a vote to object and not accept those electors from that respective state, then they won't be accepted."

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan is among the roughly 140 members of the House who plan to do the objecting, likely over the results in six states, including neighboring Pennsylvania.

Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the session. He faces pressure today in a tweet from the president reminding him "he has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors."

"That is completely false, that is not how the rules work," said Rebecca Green, a member of the bi-partisan National Task Force on Election Crisis. She says the vice president's role is almost strictly ceremonial.

"None of these duties include the power to decide controversies that might arise over counting electoral votes or to otherwise decide the outcome of the election, so that's just not how the law works."

Based on Democratic control of the House and the number of Republicans in the Senate who said they won't overturn the vote of the people — including Ohio's Rob Portman — the matter, election law experts say, is already decided.

"Unless people change their mind, the result is already visible," said former Federal Elections Commission Chair Trevor Potter. "Each chamber will reject the objections, return, go on until there's the next one made, and go through the process again."

Why go through it then? Former Ohio Governor John Kasich says it has nothing to do with the 2020 election and everything to do with the next one.

"They have calculated if they're going to run for president in 2024 they need to be on the right side of Donald Trump," Kasich said. "That's what this is all about."

In the past, this has been a relatively quick session, lasting only around an hour, but given the level of objections and up to two hours of debate on each, this could go from Wednesday into Thursday. While they make take recesses which could stretch it even further, Rebecca Green said there are safeguards for that.

"Under the Electoral Count Act, if the vote-counting session lasts for five days, that if it lasts past Monday, Congress is required to finish the counting without recessing until it is complete," she said.