What time will Congress meet to count Electoral College votes; what is the process?

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Today in a joint session of Congress, the Electoral College votes will be counted and the next president, presumably  Donald Trump, will be officially elected.

While in most years this is more of formality, this year things could be a bit different. According to some reports, a challenge could be in the offing. Ten U.S. House members intend to contest the results of the Dec.19 Electoral College voting.

If you want to follow along with today’s events, we will be offering live updates of all of the proceedings.

Here is today’s schedule.

What time do they meet?

The joint session of Congress will convene at 1 p.m. ET.

Is it on TV?

CSPAN will be airing the proceedings.

What will happen today?

Once they session convenes, here’s what they will do:

• In alphabetical order, each state’s electoral votes will be counted.

• Two “tellers” from the House and two from the Senate will announce the results.

• At this point, if anyone disputes the count for a specific state, a debate can be called for. However, if there is an objection to the vote, that objection is registered and then must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one of the Senate

• If there is such a dispute, the House and Senate will retire to meet separately to debate. They are allotted two hours to discuss the disputed vote.

• A vote will be taken in the House and the Senate on the disputed vote – whether to accept the vote count or not.

• The joint session then would reconvene, and the process would continue. In the end, the vice president will announce the winner from the chamber.

• In the unlikely event that so many votes are contested that the House and Senate cannot settle the dispute and accept at least 270 votes for Trump, the House would then choose the next president in what is known as a “contingent” election. It’s unlikely, but not  unprecedented. It’s happened twice in U.S. history – in 1801 and in 1825

• If it should come to that, the House will select from the top three candidates who received Electoral College votes – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell. Each state would get one vote in the process.

Exactly which votes are they counting?

Today's procedure is the final step in electing a president for the United States. The Electoral College met in each state on Dec. 19, and, despite talk of “faithless electors” (electors elected to vote for one candidate, but instead voting for another), Donald Trump received 304 votes, Hillary Clinton received 227 votes and Colin Powell received three votes.

Two Trump electors from Texas were “faithless,” one voting for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the other voting for former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Four Clinton electors failed to vote for her. Three voted for Powell and one voted for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.