Plenty of interesting questions have arisen related to the unprecedented riot at the Capitol in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. In a recent report printed in the New Yorker, Keith Stern, a sergeant-at-arms staffer on the floor of the House of Representatives, relayed how everyone in the Chamber safely escaped as protestors stormed into the building, and he included this fascinating tidbit:
Someone said, “Where are the boxes? Do we still have them?” One of the parliamentarians came over to me and said, “The ballot boxes are safe.” If they’d been stolen or destroyed, to be honest, I don’t know what happens.
Stern is referring to the boxes which contain the electoral certificates of each state. In a ceremonial process at the end of a presidential election (cf. Amendment XII), the president of the Senate--in this case, Vice President Pence--must unseal, initiate an official count, and then declare a winner.
So, does anyone here know the answer to this: What is the procedure if the collected electoral ballots are stolen or destroyed before they are officially counted in a joint session of Congress? Is there any kind of provision for states to send new ballots? Can the House proceed without them?