DemDaily: The Transition Timeline

November 19, 2020

Despite President Trump's refusal to acquiesce to the results of the election and a "peaceful transition," the constitutional process of seating Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States is proceeding.

(Caroline Amenabar/NPR)

Transition Timeline
November 3, 2020 - January 20, 2021

Presidential Election
While the victory was declared for President-Elect Joe Biden in the November 3, 2020 election, the road to the White House is still a complex one before he is certified in 62 days.

Canvass: Immediately after the election there is a canvass of the votes in each state, which is the process of verifying that each ballot cast was correctly counted before certification of the results.

Certification: This is normally a formality after a state is called for a candidate, but it is not official until the canvass is complete and the election results are certified by the state's chief election official or state board of elections.

Each state has its own certification deadline, ranging from November 10th to the legally-mandated deadline of December 8th.

All states must resolve contested election results and submit the winner of the presidential election in their state by the "safe harbor deadline" of December 8th in order to guarantee that Congress will accept the results. If a dispute lasts beyond that date, then a state risks having its chosen electors uncounted or having its dispute resolved by Congress.

This includes recounts, which may be automatically triggered, and state-funded, when the results are within one percentage point or less, or paid for by the requesting campaign.

There is currently one outstanding recount, a partial recount in Wisconsin's Milwaukee and Dane Counties, which the Trump campaign has paid $3 million to have conducted.

Georgia election officials are expected to confirm Joe Biden's victory today after the results of a state vote audit are released.

Click for DemList's State-by-State Guide to When the Voters are counted

Legal disputes are supposed to be resolved by December 8th as well. The Trump campaign and allies have filed 30 lawsuits to-date. 19 of those have been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn, and none has uncovered alleged election fraud.

Electoral College Count
The number of electoral votes per state is equal to the size of its congressional delegation, for a total of 538 "electors," or voters, among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Maine and Nebraska differ from other states in that each awards two electoral votes to the statewide winner and one electoral vote to the winner in each congressional district.

Each state's electors will cast their votes in their respective state capitals on December 14th, which will then be sent to Congress by December 23rd.

Electors, who are usually chosen through the state party process, are persons certified to represent their state's vote in the Electoral College. Although an elector can defect from the candidate they pledged to support, it is a rare occurrence. This year the US Supreme Court unanimously upheld laws across the country that punish or remove "faithless electors." 

Congress Counts and Certifies
On January 3, 2021 the newly-elected 117th US Congress will be sworn into office. Three days later, on January 6th, members of Congress will count the electoral votes.

The Senate and House will meet in a joint session of Congress to read aloud the state-by-state tally of the results and, once the requisite 270 electoral votes to win is met, the "announcement shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the United States."


The official transition period ends and all outgoing administration appointees tender their resignations on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn into office as the 46th President and Vice President of the United States!

Sidenote: Traditionally, the president-elect announces his cabinet nominees between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in order to prepare for the transition and confirmation hearings, which will begin immediately after the new Senate is sworn in on January 3rd. Ideally, the top 15 cabinet posts will be confirmed before Inauguration Day.

Coming soon: DemList's Guide to the New Cabinet.

DemList will keep you informed.

Connecting you to The Party
Connecting you to Each Other

Kimberly Scott

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