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Minggu, 03 Januari 2021

Donald Trump wants Congress to overturn the election result. Here's what will happen instead - ABC News

On January 7 AEDT, we'll watch the penultimate step of the 2020 US election play out.

In a flashy joint session, the US Congress will gather to count and formalise the votes of the electoral college.

In a normal election year it's a boring, mostly ceremonial process that passes without much notice. But friends, the 2020 election has been anything but normal.

Which means that on Thursday AEDT, there's going to be drama.

What normally happens in January is pretty boring

US President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of the US Congress
Things get a little cramped during joint sessions of Congress.(Reuters: Joshua Roberts)

The US Constitution requires one final step to formalise the results of a presidential election.

After the electoral college has voted (which in 2020 was in Joe Biden's favour 306-232), each state sends sealed certificates that have a record of who their electors voted for.

Both the US House of Representatives and Senate gather for a joint session at precisely 1:00pm local time, and then they open those certificates one by one and count the results.

Obviously there's no real suspense because in modern times we know the result of the election well before this step.

Two appointed "tellers" do the official business of opening the certificates (which are delivered to them in mahogany boxes) and read the votes out loud.

Congressional staff open cases containing Electoral College votes
Congressional staff open cases containing electoral college votes during a joint session of Congress after the 2016 election.(Reuters: Aaron P Bernstein)

Once each certificate has been opened, the president of the Senate — which is currently Vice-President Mike Pence — reads the final results, closing the book on another presidential election.

All pretty boring, right? We already know the result after all.

So why is President Donald Trump teasing it like a television cliffhanger?

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It won't be boring this time

The reason this process is mostly ceremonial is because the US constitution does allow any member of Congress to stand up and object to a state's electoral college vote once it's announced by the teller.

But, that objection needs to be in writing and signed by both a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate otherwise it's ignored. And ahead of the vote, it's confirmed that members from both chambers are planning to object.

Alabama representative Mo Brooks is leading an effort to challenge the election results when they're counted by Congress (despite authorities repeatedly confirming there is no evidence of widespread fraud at the 2020 election).

And Republican senator Josh Hawley has confirmed he plans to object as well (while another, Tommy Tuberville, has left the door open to the idea).

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Hawley, a senator from Missouri, is a staunch Trump supporter and reportedly harbours presidential ambitions of his own in 2024.

He plans to object despite Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly warning the President's own party that supporting Trump's push to dispute the electoral college vote would lead to a "terrible vote" for Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) conducts a news conference
After the electoral college voted, Mitch McConnell recognised Joe Biden as the president-elect.(Reuters: Caroline Brehman)

With two votes locked in, get ready for two hours of drama

After both a representative from the House (Brooks) and a senator (Hawley) object to a state's results, the drama begins.

The joint session will be suspended, then both the House and the Senate will go into separate sessions for no more than two hours to debate the objection.

Members get just five minutes to speak in favour of or against the objection.

At the end of it all, there will be a simple majority vote in both chambers.

If both chambers agree to the objection, then the votes from that state are rejected. If both don't agree, the original votes are counted.

The last time this happened was in 2005, only the second time in US history. Back then, both chambers rejected the objection to Ohio's electoral college votes.

No, Vice-President Mike Pence can't step in here

Vice President Mike Pence waves as he walks off the stage
Fringe groups have urged the Vice-President to disrupt the process of counting the votes.(AP: Lynne Sladky)

Once the objections are dealt with, all that's left for Vice-President Mike Pence to do is carry out the uncomfortable task of announcing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice-president of the United States.

US media has reported the President is unhappy Pence is "not fighting hard enough for him" and will view the Vice-President carrying out his duty of announcing the results as "the ultimate betrayal".

CNN reported Trump was "confused" as to why his Vice-President could not just overturn the election results at this step.

A group of Republican congressmen even filed a last-ditch lawsuit, asking a judge to declare Pence had "exclusive authority and sole discretion" to decide which electoral college votes would be counted.

Which is … not at all how this process works (a point made by election law experts).

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There's nothing Pence can do to overturn the result on his own. His job is basically just to read the votes.

Pence doesn't even have to do it. If he's unavailable (as was the case with vice-president Hubert Humphrey in 1969), the president pro tempore of the Senate (Republican Chuck Grassley) can do the job instead.

All of this won't change the election result

Because Democrats still control the House of Representatives and will vote down any objection. And Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has already flagged he's not interested in entertaining such a challenge.

Any attempt to overturn the US election result this way is doomed to fail.

So while it might look like a lot of high drama and theatre, the result of the US election will never actually be on the line.

US Vice President Joe Biden (L) holds the presidential election electoral college vote certificate.
One of Joe Biden's (left) last duties as vice-president in 2017 was announcing the electoral college results of Donald Trump's win.(Reuters: Jason Reed)

And all that's left once Pence announces the results is inauguration on January 21 AEDT.

On that day, Trump will leave office at 11:59am local time. Biden will be sworn in as the next president at noon.

And the speculation over whether Trump will run in 2024 will continue until he says otherwise.

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiZmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvbmV3cy8yMDIxLTAxLTA0L3doeS1jb25ncmVzcy13b250LWNoYW5nZS10aGUtZWxlY3Rpb24tZm9yLWRvbmFsZC10cnVtcC8xMzAxNzMyNtIBJ2h0dHBzOi8vYW1wLmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvYXJ0aWNsZS8xMzAxNzMyNg?oc=5

2021-01-03 18:56:00Z
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