When Will the Election Be Officially Over?

A woman holds a ballot box while a seated man puts a ballot inside
Electors cast ballots as the Texas Electoral College meet at the Capitol in Austin, Texas on December 17, 2012. Photo by Bob Daemmrich / Alamy Stock Photo.

Many people are wondering whether the 2020 general election is officially over. While all the votes have been cast and national media outlets called the presidential race for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris back on Nov. 6, there are still several things that need to happen before the results are official. So what comes next?

As a technical matter, it’s important to remember that when you are voting for a presidential candidate, you are actually voting for a slate of electors that will cast the official votes for president. The candidate that wins the most Electoral College votes is the winner.

This process has been used in American elections for hundreds of years, and it’s a good time to revisit some of the dates and deadlines as we move into the next phase of the post-election period.

The total vote of the presidential election in each state determines who the Electoral College votes are awarded to, in a winner-takes-all system like the one we have in place in America.

President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. What happens between now and then?

The presidential electors will meet on Dec. 14 to record their votes for president and send the results to Congress. Finally, on Jan. 6, Congress will meet in a joint session to count the votes and announce the official winner.

There are several lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign challenging the results. President Trump’s team also announced that they are seeking a recount in Wisconsin. The deadline for resolving these disputes is known as the safe harbor deadline, which is Dec. 8.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter