WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama will officially become the president-elect today when Congress meets in a joint session to tally the ballots from the Electoral College, which convened last month in every state and the District of Columbia.
No surprises are expected at the gathering, which is mandated by Amendment XII of the Constitution. Obama won the November general election with 365 electoral votes, compared to 173 for McCain, and all 538 electors cast their ballots accordingly when the Electoral College met on December 15.
Federal law normally requires Congress to count the Electoral College ballots on January 6, but this year, that date conflicted with the swearing-in ceremonies for the new Congress. Lawmakers passed a measure last October to change the date to January 8 for 2009 only.
Members of the newly sworn-in 111th Congress will conduct the vote counting. Vice President Dick Cheney is responsible for presiding over the session, though if he does not, the duty falls to the Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd. The session will be held in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
Each state recorded its electoral vote totals on six different copies of documents called the “Certificates of Vote” and “Certificates of Ascertainment.” The copies were then sent to the United States Senate, the National Archives, and the Federal Register.