EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

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Vice President Mike Pence finishes a swearing-in ceremony for senators in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

WASHINGTON – Wednesday’s congressional joint session to count electoral votes has taken on added importance this year as congressional Republicans allied with President Donald Trump are pledging to try and undo Democrat Joe Biden’s victory and subvert the will of the American people.

The Republicans — a dozen senators and many more House members — are citing Trump's repeated, baseless charges of widespread fraud. They say they will officially object to the results, forcing votes in the Republican-run Senate and the Democratic-controlled House that will almost certainly fail.

There was not widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by a range of election officials and by William Barr, who stepped down as attorney general last month. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers promising to object to the count have presented credible evidence that would change the outcome.

Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. The Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices, has also denied requests to hear a pair of cases aimed at invalidating the outcome of the election in key battleground states.

The congressional meeting on Jan. 6 is the final step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral College officially elected him in December. The meeting is required by the Constitution and includes several distinct steps.

A look at the joint session:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CONGRESS MEETS WEDNESDAY?

Under federal law, Congress must meet Jan. 6 to open sealed certificates from each state that contain a record of their electoral votes. The votes are brought into the chamber in special mahogany boxes used for the occasion.