What is the process for counting the Electoral College votes in Congress?

Pursuant to 3 U.S.C. § 15, the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President, which have been submitted by the states, are counted in a joint session of Congress, presided over by the Vice President. For an example of how the votes are tallied in practice, researchers can review the transcript of the official tallying of the Electoral College from the 2016 election in the Congressional Record163 Cong. Rec. H185 (Daily ed. Jan. 6, 2017). The official Electoral College vote tally for President in the 2016 election is reported on page H189.

Researchers reviewing the 2016 vote tally may notice that several votes cast by electors and counted by Congress were for individuals who were not official candidates or who did not win that state's popular vote. For more information about these so-called "faithless electors," please see the related FAQ, What is the law on faithless electors?

For further information about the counting of electoral votes in Congress, researchers can consult these online resources:

For additional resources and information about the Electoral College, visit the Law Library's research guide, The Law of the Electoral College.

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2023
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