Ceremony makes presidential election results official

President Obama visits Davenport Iowa 10-24-12 WQAD Photo (2)

(CNN) — President Barack Obama has officially won re-election.

Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as president of the Senate, made the unsurprising announcement after a bit of official pomp and circumstance in Congress on Friday. The House and Senate convened a 23-minute joint legislative session Friday to perform the official task of receiving and counting the Electoral College votes.

The results were as expected.

“Barack Obama of the state of Illinois has received for president of the United States 332 votes. Mitt Romney of the state of Massachusetts has received 206 votes,” Biden said. “Joseph Biden of the state of Delaware has received for vice president of the United States 332 votes. Paul Ryan of the state of Wisconsin has received 206 votes.”

“This announcement of the state of the vote by the president of the Senate shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons elected president and vice president of the United States, each for the term beginning on the 20th day of January 2013,” he said.

The votes are typically counted on January 6, which falls this year on a Sunday, so Congress’ first act Thursday included a provision to move the count to Friday.

The Senate “tellers” opened the official Certificate of Ascertainment and Certificate of Votes from the states, which are prepared by governors and submitted to the speaker of the House and president of the Senate.

Senate pages carried in mahogany boxes carrying the certificates.

The process is laid out in the Constitution, which says after the electoral votes are submitted, “the president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”

The process is typically ceremonial and smooth. In 1877, however, a special commission including members of the House, Senate, and Supreme Court reviewed challenged ballots, according to the House historian. That year Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president.

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