It feels like it may never end, however, one of the final steps in the US election gets underway today.

Congress will meet in a joint session to recognise and validate the results of the Electoral College following the November US election. 

On January 6, the House and Senate will meet together to count the electoral votes and hear challenges from lawmakers, with many in the GOP expected to raise issues amid claims from Donald Trump of electoral fraud. 

Despite these issues, the formality of rubber stamping the election results is expected to be confirmed following the meeting.

Under Federal Law, Congress meets to open sealed certificates from each state that contain a record of their electoral votes. The electors are counted with the results read aloud with the Vice-President presiding over the session and declaring both the winner of the presidency and the vice-presidency.  

In theory, the meeting is the final step in reaffirming Biden’s victory - however, it is required by Federal Law and is the final way of “certifying” the election results. 

Does the Constitution require the Congress meeting?

Yes, the Constitution requires Congress to meet and count the electoral college votes in order to establish who will be the president and vice president. 

Usually, this event is a box-ticking exercise, however, more scrutiny and interest has been placed on the meeting due to the legal challenges from the Trump campaign. 

HeraldScotland: Donald Trump has spent the last 4 years at the White House. Donald Trump has spent the last 4 years at the White House.

READ MORE: Why January 6th is a key date in the US election - a look at the next steps

What time is the session?

The session begins at 1 p.m. EST, which is 6pm in the UK. 

What happens if there is no clear winner?

In the event that no one can be named as the next President and VP, the House decides the presidency, with each congressional delegation having one vote. While this is unlikely (it hasn't happened since the 1800s) there are a number of legal challenges from Donald Trump and some members may raise objections. 

Can members object and how are objections raised? 

Yes. Importantly however, this joint session is the last official chance for objections, aside from court cases that have been raised by President Trump and his legal team. 

Congress members can object to the votes of individual electors and make the final call on the winners of any states that are unable to resolve their disputes. After a tally from a state is read any member can stand up and object to that state's vote on any grounds. However, this will not be heard unless in writing and signed by a member of both houses. If there is such a request that meets the criteria, both the House and Senate will debate the validity of the objection and if they both do not agree, the original declaration is passed. If enough legal challenges are not resolved then the states could be voted for by the houses. 

This means that the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate could potentially split on which votes to accept. However, this would require a number of states to be exceptionally close and a number of legal challenges to be passed. 

In the event that this occurs and it is a tie in the electoral college votes, Vice President Pence who oversees the count could have a casting vote in declaring the winner. This is unlikely however as Joe Biden's electoral win over Trump was a rather healthy 306-232.

HeraldScotland: US Vice President Mike Pence US Vice President Mike Pence

Are members expected to object?

The decision to object has caused a rift in the Republican Party. Senator Josh Hawley has said he will join with other Republicans. Ted Cruz has said he has formed a coalition of at least 11 additional senators who will vote against electors unless an audit is carried out. 

Josh Hawley is also one of the favourites to become the Republican presidential candidate for 2024.

HeraldScotland: Josh Hawley is also one of the favourites to become the Republican presidential candidate for 2024.Josh Hawley is also one of the favourites to become the Republican presidential candidate for 2024.

READ MORE:  Donald Trump vows to 'fight like hell' to hold on to presidency

It is unclear the extent to which GOP leaders in Congress will be able to control Wednesday's joint session, which could drag into the night, though the challenges to the election are all but certain to fail.

What has Donald Trump said about the vote?

The president called on his VP, Mike Pence to reject President-elect the Electoral College victory from Joe Biden saying: “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. I hope our great vice president comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him very much”

"I promise you this: On Wednesday, we'll have our day in Congress," Mr Pence said while himself campaigning in Georgia ahead of Tuesday's runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate.

HeraldScotland: Trump on the Campaign Trail during the US election Trump on the Campaign Trail during the US election

Have the legal challenges from Trump been successful?

The vast majority of legal challenges from the Trump campaign have been unsuccessful with the majority being dismissed by judges. 

Will Pence be voting himself out as VP?

As presiding officer, Mike Pence will be charged with announcing Biden's victory - and his own defeat.