The 2016 presidential election finally ends on Friday, January 6, as a joint session of the United States Congress, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding, meets officially to unveil and count the Electoral College vote — an event that politics junkies can watch via live stream from the U.S. Capitol.
While U.S. voters went to the polls on November 8, with Democrat Hillary Clinton winning a majority and defeating Donald Trump in the popular vote by a historic — for a losing candidate — 2.1 percentage point margin, it was the Electoral College vote on December 19 that, under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, actually determined the victor in the 2016 presidential election.
Electoral College voters are not bound to vote, under federal law, the way that their state’s voters indicate, and indeed, it appears that seven electoral voters went “faithless,” voting for candidates of their choice rather than for Trump or Clinton.
While one Clinton elector in Hawaii voted for her Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders, two Trump electors in Texas refused to cast ballots for the New York businessman and reality TV personality, voting instead for Ohio Governor John Kasich, who ran against Trump in the Republican primaries, and former Texas congressional representative Ron Paul, who ran for president in the 2008 and 2012 Republican primaries.
In Washington State, three Clinton electors also defected, with two voting for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one for Native American activist Faith Spotted Eagle.
Presumably, those names will all be read out when the U.S. House and Senate meet jointly at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. Capital building on Friday, January 6. To watch a live stream of the official Electoral College 2016 vote count, click on the video below — or see the streaming options listed at the bottom of this article
Though the Electoral College vote count is essentially a formality, the count is significant because Trump’s election remains unofficial without it. In other words, if Trump were to die or become incapacitated prior to the conclusion of the Electoral College vote count on Friday, there would at point be no president-elect. The line of succession determining who would take over from Trump is unclear under federal law.
But once the Electoral College votes are officially in the books, the constitutional lobe of succession kicks in, meaning that if Trump were suddenly rendered unable to become president on January 20, Vice President-elect Mike Pence would be inaugurated as president in his place.
The official count on Friday also will confirm Trump as the president with the third-worst performance among actual voters in the history of U.S. presidential elections. Only Rutherford B. Hayes, who lost by three points in 1876 but became president anyway, and John Quincy Adams in 1824 — who lost by more than 10 points in the popular vote — have done worse.
Clinton won 2,864,974 more votes than Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
For live online streaming and coverage of the Electoral College 2016 vote count at Friday’s joint session of congress — with no cable login credentials required — check out CBS News at this link, or ABC News Go by clicking on this link.
Live streaming feeds that will offer coverage of Monday’s Electoral College meetings from around the country on the three major cable news networks are also available online, although they mostly require cable or satellite provider online login credentials. Find the CNN feed at this link, MSNBC here at this link, and Fox News by clicking here. Or try this alternative link to get live Electoral College voting coverage. For a live stream without the network bells and whistles — or commercials — C-SPAN provides coverage starting at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, on Monday, December 19, at this link. The C-SPAN stream will cover the joint session of Congress at which the Electoral College vote count will be made official on Friday.
[Featured Image By Drew Angerer/Getty Images]