Fact Check: Will Mike Pence Not Preside Over the Electoral College Certification?

Congress will convene in a joint session on January 6, when it is expected to officially accept the results of the Electoral College, which awarded President-elect Joe Biden 306 electoral votes and President Donald Trump 232.

Social media users have questioned whether Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the joint session, which is his constitutional responsibility as president of the Senate, or leave his duties to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate pro-tempore and longest-serving senator in the majority party.

Grassley's office clarifies that he was meaning to explain what would happen if Pence had to step away during Wednesday's proceedings to count Electoral College votes. "Every indication we have is that the vice president will be there," Grassley's office said.

— Roll Call (@rollcall) January 5, 2021

The Claim

Roll Call reported that Grassley originally claimed that Pence would not be presiding over the joint session, leaving Grassley to step in.

According to Roll Call, Grassley's office then walked back his initial claim, stating, "Every indication we have is that the vice president will be there."

Despite these back-and-forth statements, there has been confusion as to who will preside over the formal counting of electoral votes.

The Facts

According to USA Today, the lawsuit filed by Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and a number of would-be electors from Arizona against Pence in order to allow him to choose which electoral votes will be counted was dismissed by a federal judge.

As previously reported by Newsweek, the Constitution does not grant Pence the ability to pick and choose which electoral votes count. His role as president of the Senate is to preside over the joint session and open the certificates to be officially counted.

A number of Republicans have said that they will object to the results.

According to CNN, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), one of two Republican candidates running in the Georgia Senate runoff on January 5, has declared she will object to certifying the Electoral College results at the joint session.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has made the same promise as Loffler on several occasions.

Millions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve to be heard. I will object on January 6 on their behalf pic.twitter.com/kTaaPPJGHE

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) December 30, 2020

Hawley is joined by a number of other lawmakers who have pledged to lodge objections on January 6, including Representative Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Representative Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Why I Will Object on Jan 6th

“I am committed to restoring the faith of the American people in our elections - that they are free, fair, secure, and according to the United States Constitution.”

WATCH 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/crIgARuIzN

— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) January 4, 2021

According to NPR, if an objection to the electoral vote count occurs during the joint session, which seems likely for Wednesday's proceedings, a member from both the House and Senate must submit that objection in writing for it to be considered. After that, members of the House and Senate will return to their separate chambers for up to two hours.

Members are allowed up to five minutes to argue for or against the objection, which will be followed by a vote in each chamber. A majority vote is required to uphold the objection and both the House and Senate must agree on the objection.

Business Insider reported that these objections "will only delay and not change the outcome of the election. President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20."

SENATOR JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO) JOINS 30+ CONGRESSMEN IN OBJECTING to electoral college vote submissions from states with such flawed election systems as to render their election results untrustworthy.

BAM! The fight for America’s Republic IS ON!

WATCH JANUARY 6, STARTING 1PM ET. pic.twitter.com/vjcUW9ec6U

— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) December 30, 2020

Qasim Rashid, a human rights lawyer and former Democratic nominee to represent Virginia's 1st Congressional District, condemned the idea that Pence would not attend the joint session.

Imagine being so afraid of Trump & having such blatant disregard for the American people that you won’t fulfill a most foundational constitutional responsibility. https://t.co/T1hF02oP4Z

— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) January 5, 2021

Pence promised at a rally in Georgia on Monday that he will not only attend the joint session on January 6 but will hear any objections that might come up.

"I know we all—we all got our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities," Pence said. "And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we'll have our day in Congress. We'll hear the objections. We'll hear the evidence."

At a rally Monday in Dalton, Georgia, Trump suggested that Pence will preside.

"I hope that our great vice president comes through for us. He's a great guy," Trump said, according to C-SPAN. "Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much."

The Ruling


There is no evidence that Vice President Pence won't preside over the joint session on January 6 when Congress is expected to formally count the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election.

Vice President Mike Pence Campaigns In Georgia
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Rock Springs Church to campaign for GOP Senate candidates on January 4, 2021 in Milner, Georgia. Despite Trump's calls for the vice president to "reject fraudulently chosen elector," Pence can only hear the objection requests from House and Senate members during the joint session taking place on January 6. Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images