The Electoral College and the Role of the Congress

July 7, 2008 - 8:19 PM

(Editor's Note: The following procedural guide to the Electoral College was prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC.)

House and Senate staff come to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) to inspect the Certificates of Vote in late December. Because the statutory procedure prescribes that the Certificates of Vote sent to the President of the Senate be held under seal until Congress opens and counts them in joint session, the Congress depends on the OFR to ensure the facial legal sufficiency of Certificates.

If any State's Certificate fails to reach the President of the Senate, the President of the Senate calls on OFR to deliver duplicate originals in its possession to complete the set held by Congress. After the 1988 general election, the President of the Senate called for nineteen of the Certificates of Vote held by the OFR. For the 1992 election, the OFR supplied the Congress with two missing Certificates of Vote.

The Congress is scheduled to meet in joint session in the House of Representatives at one o'clock January 6, 2001 (this date is subject to change) to conduct the official tally of electoral votes. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, is the presiding officer. Two tellers are appointed to open, present and record the votes of the States in alphabetical order.

The President of the Senate announces the results of the vote and declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States. The results are entered into the official journals of the House and Senate. The President of the Senate then calls for objections to be made.

If any objections are registered, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and Senate. The House and Senate would withdraw to their respective chambers to consider the merits of any objections according the procedure set out under 3 U.S.C. section 15.

Read about the role of the states

Read about the role of the Office of the Federal Register

Read about the Electoral College in Brief