Election 2020 has been a wild ride but friends, we aren’t done yet! Election Day is typically the end of the fight for the White House. But of course, 2020. Lots of people compare this to the Bush/Gore election but I was literally a child so I don’t really remember much of the controversy.
When Americans vote for a presidential candidate, we are really voting for electors in our respective state. Those electors in most cases are committed to support the voters’ candidate of choice. The number of electors is equal to the number of electoral votes held by each state. State laws vary on how electors are selected but, generally, a slate of electors for each party’s candidate is chosen at state party conventions or by a vote of a party’s central committee.
Here’s a quick timeline of what we should expect between now and the end of January 2021. These are months of procedural steps- laid out by the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
After Election Day, states count and certify the results of the popular vote. When completed, each governor is required by law to prepare “as soon as practicable” documents known as “Certificates of Ascertainment” of the vote. The certificates list the electors’ names and the number of votes cast for the winner and loser. The certificate, carrying the seal of each state, is sent to the archivist of the United States.
December 8 is the deadline for resolving election disputes at the state level. All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results are to be completed by this date. -Also known as the safe harbor deadline.
December 14: Electors vote by paper ballot in their respective states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states and D.C. have laws or party regulations requiring electors to vote the same way the popular vote goes in the state, and in some states, electors can even be replaced or subjected to penalties, according to the Congressional Research Service. The votes for president and vice president are counted and the electors sign six “Certificates of the Vote.” The certificates, along with other official papers, are sent by registered mail to various officials, including the president of the Senate.
December 23: The certificates must be delivered to the designated officials. If they are not delivered, the law provides alternative avenues for getting the results to Washington.
January 6, 2021: The House and Senate hold a joint session to count the electoral votes. If one ticket has received 270 or more electoral votes, the president of the Senate, currently Vice President Mike Pence, announces the results. If neither presidential candidate wins at least 270 electoral votes, the House decides the election, based on the 12th Amendment to the Constitution. If required, the House would elect the president. Each state delegation has one vote and it takes 26 votes to win.
January 20, 2021: The president-elect is sworn into office on Inauguration Day.
FYI: By noon on January 20, 2021, the Constitution says a new presidential term begins. If Congress has not yet certified a winner of the presidential election, federal law designates an acting president based on which elected officials are in office. If there is no president or vice president whose election has been certified by Congress, for example, the Speaker of the House becomes president. If there isn’t a speaker in office, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate becomes president.
(As of 11/12/2020) The Associated Press has not declared a winner in North Carolina’s presidential contest because a week after Election Day, the race between President-elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump is still too early to call. The AP on Saturday declared Biden had won the presidency. But individual contests in North Carolina and Georgia are still too tight for a winner to be declared in those states.