There are several key dates we still need to pay attention to between now and Inauguration Day.
Dec. 1 was the last deadline for states to certify their votes. Now that that’s completed, here’s a timeline of what happens leading up to Inauguration Day 2021:
- Dec. 8: This 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. Trump’s campaign is contesting the vote count in several states through legal challenges, but none of those efforts are expected to alter the outcome.
- Dec. 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. In some states, rogue electors can 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.
- Dec. 23: The electors’ ballots from all states must be received by the president of the Senate.
- Jan. 3, 2021: New Congress is seated.
- Jan. 5, 2021: Georgia Senate runoffs.
- Jan. 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. Biden won enough states to be awarded more than 270 electoral votes.
Members of Congress may object to returns from any state as they are announced. Objections must be made in writing by at least one member of the House and one in the Senate. If the objection meets certain requirements, each chamber meets separately to debate the objection for a maximum of two hours. Afterward, each chamber votes to accept or reject the objection. Back in joint session, the results of the respective votes are announced. Any objection to a state’s electoral vote has to be approved by both houses in order for any contested votes to be excluded.
If neither presidential candidate got at least 270 electoral votes, the House would decide 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.
- Jan. 20, 2021: Inauguration Day – Biden takes the oath of office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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