Though it seemed like the end of a long journey at the time, Nov. 8 was really just the beginning of the electoral process — and various last-minute efforts to block Donald Trump from the White House have made this election seem even more strenuous than usual. However, it may all finally be over on Jan. 6, when the Electoral College votes are certified during a special joint session of Congress. So, what time is the Electoral College result announced? The election results should be made official by the late afternoon, but it will be stressful no matter how long it takes.
According to Title 3, Chapter 1 of the U.S. Code, the special session of Congress to certify the vote must begin at 1:00 p.m. ET on Jan. 6 (that gets changed by special order of the president if it falls on the weekend). The results should be available just a few hours after that — the process is mostly complete by the time the vote certificates reach Congress. Plus, since there's actually a level of reasonable doubt as to how this election might turn out, the major media outlets should all be clamoring to break the headline. Chances are, however, Trump will remain the president-elect.
The Electoral College was the last best chance for the millions of Americans who hoped to keep Trump out of the presidency, and the outcome of this vote will undoubtedly have ramifications for the future of American politics. If the extensive, though arguably disorganized, lobbying campaign to sway Republican electors to cast their vote for an alternative candidate actually worked, Trump could miss out on the electoral majority. In that case, the election would go to the House of Representatives, whose Republican majority would surely elect Trump anyway. If, however, the election night estimate holds and Trump receives the requisite 270 votes, there could be a larger and even more consequential national debate about whether the Electoral College still serves the purpose intended by the Founding Fathers.
You shouldn't have to stay up late to find out the results of the Jan. 6 certification, but if they do take longer than anticipated, staying up will be worth it. Whatever happens in that special session of Congress will be a huge part of American history, and seeing it happen will be a story you can tell for years to come (not to mention the FOMO if you miss it).