Joe Biden will count the Electoral College votes now. Here’s what to look out for

“There will be objections made on the floor.” — TX Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. But they still need a Senator.

Joe Biden will count the Electoral College votes now. Here’s what to look out for

 

At 1 p.m. eastern this afternoon, Congress will meet for a joint session to ratify the 2016 Electoral College votes and, likely, afford Donald Trump the 270 votes necessary to ascend to the presidency.  Vice President Joe Biden will read the vote tally in a televised address.  You can watch it on C-SPAN here.

Typically it is a routine event.

But this year’s Electoral College process has been anything but ordinary. For the first time in history, an organized rebellion sparked among a small group of national electors to try and block Trump from the 270 votes he needed. That revolt among so-called Hamilton electors did not succeed.

And yet. Some believe there still might be a way.

Congress has the right to challenge Electoral College votes on the day they are ratified, though the law that allows it has never actually been used to block a president from taking office. Members of the U.S. House can object, but they need a U.S. senator to also object in order to trigger a formal challenge. If they find one, the process could draw out for hours. In 2000, some U.S. House members objected to the Electoral College vote count for George W. Bush but could not find a Senator to join them. 

Colorado, which has been a hotbed of anti-Trump activity and rebellion, saw another flash of it yesterday before the spark was snuffed out. Denver-area Congressman Ed Perlmutter indicated he might object during the vote count, but then quickly abandoned the idea.

In the span of hours, a headline in The Denver Post changed from “Ed Perlmutter mobilizes challenge to Donald Trump” to “Colorado’s Ed Perlmutter abandons challenge to Donald Trump win.”

Still, some members of the U.S. House planned to object as early as late Thursday night.

“There will be objections made on the floor tomorrow regarding the counting of votes,” Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas told The Colorado Independent in a late Thursday night phone call.

She said her focus will be on voter suppression and “whether electors were improperly seated.”

Jackson Lee, who sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said she and her staff has seen research alleging up to 50 members of the Electoral College might have improperly cast their votes on Dec. 19, and she believes there is merit to it. No fan of the Electoral College system, she said the allegations should be investigated beyond any challenge of the Electoral College vote count.

Jackson Lee said she and others were still looking for a potential senator to help make objections, since members of the House are limited to what they can get on the floor without a Senator willing to object.

On Thursday, Polly Baca and Bob Nemanich, two of Colorado’s Electoral College members who earlier made headlines in an effort to stop Trump through the Electoral College process, were calling the offices of members of the Colorado congressional delegation in hopes of persuading someone to object in today’s joint session.

“We need a senator,” Baca says. “Nobody has confirmed.”

Photo by Ancho. for Creative Commons on Flickr.

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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