Trump Pressures Pence to Reject Electoral Votes

The vice president plays a crucial but largely ceremonial role in certifying the election results in Congress. Here’s how Congress’s election tally actually works.

President Trump on Tuesday escalated his efforts to force Vice President Mike Pence to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, falsely asserting that Mr. Pence had the power to unilaterally throw out electoral votes on Wednesday when Congress meets to certify the election results.

But there is nothing in the Constitution or the law that explicitly gives a vice president that power, and aides close to Mr. Pence, who concede that he is facing a politically perilous moment, are convinced he will follow the normal procedures and confirm Mr. Biden’s election.

Still, most agree that Wednesday promises to be a long and confusing day on Capitol Hill — and a potentially agonizing one for Mr. Pence — as Mr. Trump’s Republican allies move to challenge Mr. Biden’s victory and force at least one vote on the matter that is expected to fail.

The proceeding will test what had long been considered little more than a paperwork exercise in American democracy: the certification of the election by Congress. The vice president’s role is to be the master of ceremonies rather than arbiter of the outcome, declaring the winner based on who has the most electoral votes.

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