Counting Electoral Votes: An Overview of Procedures at the Joint Session, Including Objections by Members of Congress [December 8, 2008] [open pdf - 187KB]
"The Constitution and federal law establish a detailed timetable following the presidential election during which time the members of the electoral college convene in the 50 state capitals and in the District of Columbia, cast their votes for President and Vice President, and submit their votes through state officials to both houses of Congress. The electoral votes are opened before a joint session of Congress on January 6, unless that date is changed by law (as it was to provide for the opening of the 2008 electoral votes on January 8, 2009). Federal law specifies the procedures which are to be followed at this session and provides procedures for challenges to the validity of an electoral vote. This report describes the steps in the process and precedents set in prior presidential elections governing the actions of the House and Senate in certifying the electoral vote and in responding to challenges of the validity of one or more electoral votes from one or more states. This report will be updated on a periodic basis to provide the dates for the relevant joint session of Congress, and to reflect any new, relevant precedents or practices."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32717
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