04 January 2013

January 4th, 2013: Obama/ Biden "officially" re-elected

Pursuant to the 12th amendment to the US Constitution, both Houses of the US Congress met today in a joint session at 1:00 PM EST to certify and tally the results of the electoral vote for President and Vice President of the United States of America for the term starting on January 20th, 2013, at 12:00 PM EDT. Actually, January 6th is the date set for the reading of the electoral votes, but because January 6th, 2013 is a Sunday, the two Houses of Congress agreed to meet today.

Though the election was on November 6th and the winner was apparent by 11:20 PM EDT, the actual electors, or better put, slates of electors, voted for their candidate in their respective states starting on December 17th. With the actual tallying of the results today (and there were no electoral surprises today), President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have been officially re-elected:

Official electoral tally for President (2013-2017):

Barack Obama: 332 electoral votes (61.7%)
Mitt Romney: 206 electoral votes (38.3%)
margin: Obama +126 electoral votes (+23.4%)

Official electoral tally for Vice-President (2013-2017):


Joe Biden: 332 electoral votes (61.7%)
Paul Ryan: 206 electoral votes (38.3%)
margin: Biden +126 electoral votes (+23.4%)

With this official tally, this is now the 3rd two-term administration in a row where both the President and the Vice President were elected and re-elected, without change in personnel (Clinton/Gore 1993-2001, Bush, Jr./Cheney 2001-2009, Obama/Biden 2009-2017).

Since the sitting Vice-President is also the President of the Senate and is required by the US Constitution to preside over this particular joint session of congress, this means that he announced the end results for President Obama and for himself as well. This phenomenon happens with pretty much every successful re-election of a President, assuming that he did not change Vice-Presidential nominees between terms. Here examples since 1956:

Then Vice-President Richard Nixon presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 1957.
Then Vice-President Richard Nixon also presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 1961 and announced that his opponent in the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy, had officially been elected.
Then Vice-President Spiro Agnew presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 1973.
Then Vice-President George W. Bush, Sr. presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 1985.
Then Vice-President Al Gore presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 1997.
Then Vice-President Al Gore also presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 2001 and announced that his opponent in the 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush, Jr, had officially been elected.
Then Vice-President Dick Cheney presided over the joint session/counting of electors in January 2005.

If the Vice President of the United States cannot preside over this joint session of Congress or if there is no Vice-President to preside over this joint session of Congress, then the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate assumes this duty. For instance, in 1949, when the electors were counted, then President Harry Truman had no actual Vice-President at his side, for Harry Truman rose from the Vice-Presidency to the Presidency upon the death of FDR shortly after the beginning of his unprecedented 4th term in office and the office of Vice-President remained unfilled from April 12, 1945 to January 20, 1949. So, Kenneth McKeller, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate from 1945-1947 and then from 1949-1953, presided over the counting of the electoral votes from the 1948 election.

The actual ceremony for counting the electors is pretty cut-and dried:

-The Speaker of the House of Representatives announces that the joint session will be gavelled by the President of the Senate.
-The President of the Senate (the Vice President) calls the "tellers" forth, who then read the results, per state, in alphabetical order. Today there were four tellers, 2 from each House of Congress.
-the entire thing lasted around 30 minutes.
-after Vice President Biden announced the grand tally, he then gavelled the session to a close.

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The only disturbing thing about this joint session was the shocking absence of most of Congress during the 1/2 hour session. The lower tier, where Representatives usually sit, was almost completely empty. The upper tier was filled with "normal" citizens. Now, you would think that every single elected member of Congress would want to be there for the official tallying of the electoral vote for President and Vice-President, but apparently, many did not show up.

And if the victims of Hurricane Sandy thought that Speaker of the House John Boehner would put up the entire aid package for a vote in the House of Representatives today, they got another shock: the House approved 9.7 billion - for FEMA for flood insurance - but nothing more. And 67 House Republicans voted AGAINST even this small amount of aid. Unbelievable. Then, once the counting of the electors was over with,  Boehner then declared the House of Representatives officially in recess until January 14th. So, NJ and NY will have to wait another 11 days and see what happens. According to reports, Boehner will put the other 51 billion up for a vote on January 15th. Just a reminder: Sandy happened 10 weeks ago.  When Katrina hit in August 2005, the Republican controlled Congress (both Houses) passed a 60 billion aid package for those victims and their states just 10 days after the Hurricane made landfall.

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