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 Record: 163 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:
- House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House, Chapter 24: Electoral Counts; Selection of President and Vice President (available on govinfo)
- Counting Electoral Votes: An Overview of Procedures at the Joint Session, Including Objections by Members of Congress (RL32717), Congressional Research Service
Additional Ways to Contact Us
Send written correspondence to:
The Law Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue
Washington, DC 20540-4860
We cannot provide legal advice, interpretation, or analysis which could be interpreted as the practice of law; extensive bibliographies or legislative histories; or answers for student homework assignments.