The 2020 election season go not finish when the polls close up door on November 3. Election Day is just the most visible minute in the months-long process to select the chairman of the unified States.

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When you cast your poll for president, you space not actually voting directly for that certain candidate. Rather, you room voting for the slate the electors currently selected by the candidate’s political party. Together, the slates that electors liked by voters in every state consist of the Electoral College, i m sorry is the body developed by article II that the U.S. Constitution that ultimately elects the President and also Vice chairman of the united States.

The Electoral College procedure is extensive and also multi-faceted, however the three critical milestones following this December space (1) the for sure Harbor deadline, (2) the casting of electors’ votes, and (3) the deadline for receipt the these results by the chairman of the Senate.


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December 8, 2020: The for sure Harbor meeting

U.S. Code calls for that states resolve all election-related disputes six days prior to electors actors their votes. Claims are expected to finish recounts, resolve any legal challenges, and certify outcomes by this date, typically known as the “Safe Harbor” deadline.

Typically, state governors likewise prepare certificates of Ascertainment by this date, which encompass the name of electors, certified election results, and the state’s main seal. Claims are required to certify results and prepare certificates of Ascertainment “as quickly as practicable” after ~ the election, but they must supply the certificate to the U.S. Archivist and also the state’s slate the electors no later on than December 14.

If a state succeeds in conference the safe Harbor Deadline, their results are considered conclusive and legally binding once sent to Congress for counting.

U.S. Code dictates that electors chandelier meet and also vote on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December that presidential election years. This year, that date falls top top December 14. On now electors fulfill in their corresponding states at a location, set by the state legislative (usually the state capital), and vote by record ballot because that President and Vice President.

After electors vote, they authorize six “Certificates the the Vote,” every of which has a list of votes because that President and a perform of votes because that Vice President. Every Certificate the the poll is then packaged along with a Certificate the Ascertainment. The resulting six official certificates space then spread to the president of the Senate, the Archivist, and the state’s secretary the state and also District Court judge.

The possibility of “faithless electors”—or electors who vote because that someone other than your party’s nominee—has been a hotly discussed topic. However, this just occurs on rarely occasions and has never transformed a presidential choice outcome. Furthermore, 33 states and the district of Columbia need electors to poll for the candidate favored by voters during the popular vote.

The aforementioned certificates—each including the surname of electors, the electors’ votes, and the state’s certified choice results—must be yielded to all appropriate parties through the 4th Wednesday in December, or December 23 in 2020. Have to the certificates not arrive by this date, the chairman of the Senate or U.S. Archivist shall inquiry a copy “by the many expeditious an approach available” from the relevant state’s secretary the state.

After certificate are delivered on December 23, the electors’ job is complete. The last responsibility because that electing the president then falls to the U.S. Congress. Top top January 6, 2021 at 1:00p.m. ET, the Senate and House of to represent will meet in joint session to count the electors’ votes and also declare the winners. Finally, top top January 20, 2021, the President and also Vice President called by Congress will be inaugurated—at last marking the finish to a long and also grueling choice season.

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