All the 12th Amendment says is that in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, “the [electoral] votes shall then be counted.” The word “counted” provides no basis for anyone to override anything. When a person counts the number of games his favorite team has won, that person has no power to alchemize losses into wins.

The narrow word “counted” also contrasts sharply with Congress’s constitutional powers concerning congressional elections. Section 5 of Article I expressly provides: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own members.” The 12th Amendment would not have used the much narrower word “counted” to give the vice president or Congress the power “to be the Judge” for presidential elections.