Listen Live

Twelve Senate Republicans say they plan on Wednesday to mount a challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory unless there is an audit of votes in certain key states.

>> Read more trending news

The plan, spearheaded by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, calls for an emergency 10-day audit of the 2020 presidential election results.

“We intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified,’” the senators said in a statement. “Unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.”

On Sunday, Cruz told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo that he felt Congress had an “obligation” to examine the claims of voter fraud.

“We went into this election with the country deeply divided, deeply polarized,” Cruz said on Sunday, “and we’ve seen in the last two months unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, and that’s produced a deep, deep distrust of our democratic process across the country. I think we in Congress have an obligation to do something about that. We have an obligation to protect the integrity of the democratic system.”

Upward of 60 court cases have already been brought by President Donald Trump’s campaign, state Republican parties or private individuals contesting either the vote count, the election processes, or how votes were certified.

To date, almost all the cases have either been dropped or dismissed. A few are pending appeal.

Here’s what we know about the Electoral College vote count and what is likely to happen on Wednesday.

How does the process work?

According to the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the House and the Senate are to meet in a joint session on Jan. 6 (following a November presidential election) at 1 p.m. to count the votes cast by Electoral College electors.

Those Electoral College votes, which were cast in December and sent by each state to the Congress, determine the next president of the United States.

Vice President Mike Pence presides over the process. In addition to being vice president, he is also the president of the Senate.

Pence will open all envelopes that contain the certificates of ascertainment — the certified Electoral College vote tallies for each state.

He hands them to “tellers,” the people appointed from the House and the Senate to read the ballots and verify the results.

The tellers will read the states’ certificates, announcing that the certificate from each state “seems to be regular in form and authentic.”

If there is no objection, the state’s certified results are counted.

How does someone object to the results?

Any lawmaker has the opportunity to object to the counting of a state’s certified results.

Pence has the power to recognize any lawmaker who objects.

While anyone can object, it takes a member of the House in conjunction with a member of the Senate to formally challenge a state’s Electoral College vote tally. The objection must be presented in writing.

That objection sends the House and Senate back to chambers to debate the objection separately.

What constitutes an objection?

There is nothing in the Constitution or in federal law that defines what an objection is.

What happens once an objection is made?

Once an objection is made and both a senator and a member of the House submit the objection in writing, lawmakers break up into their separate chambers to discuss the objection and vote on its merit.

The chambers have two hours to debate the issue raised in the objection. Each member may speak for up to five minutes.

At the end of the two-hour debate, the body holds a simple majority vote of the members who are present. They then resume the joint session and report their vote.

Both chambers must agree to the challenge for it to be successful.

If they do not agree, the challenge is not sustained and the votes from the state are accepted and counted.

If they agree, the votes are set aside.

The process is the same for every objection — each objection gets up to two hours of debate in the House and Senate.

Which senators say they will object on Wednesday?

The GOP senators who have said they intend to challenge vote tallies are:

  • Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
  • Mike Braun, Indiana
  • Ted Cruz, Texas
  • Steve Danes, Montana
  • Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
  • John Kennedy, Louisiana
  • James Lankford, Oklahoma
  • Bill Hagerty, Tennessee
  • Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming
  • Roger Marshall, Kansas
  • Tommy Tuberville, Alabama

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said last week that he intends to challenge the voting procedures and Electoral College results in “some states.” The 11 senators who announced this weekend they would challenge the results are not aligned with Hawley.

“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws,” Hawley said in a statement announcing his decision. “And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega-corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper said he was told last week that as many as 140 Republicans in the House have indicated they may object to the election results.

Will the objections be upheld and overturn the Electoral College vote?

Not likely. The House has a Democratic majority and it would seem unlikely they would vote to sustain an objection.

Even the Senate is not a guarantee. While there is a Republican majority, several GOP lawmakers have called on those planning to object to Electoral College votes to stand down from their plan.

The likely outcome is an extended vote count — it could take many hours if objections are made for several states.

Have objections been tried before?

Yes, but no objection to Electoral College votes has ever reversed an election.