art by caeli harman

The Final Steps of the Electoral Process

Keep your eyes peeled for the next steps of the Electoral Process

Election day. The emotion, or lack thereof, that this small phrase invokes is precisely the nature of the events that unfolded on Nov. 3, 2020. With Joe Biden as the projected winner and newly appointed president-elect, the country will see significant changes come January. Until then, there are still 55 days left, so what happens next? 

Before Joe Biden is sworn into office, there are a few steps left in the electoral process; for one, all votes, recounts, and disputes on the state level must be resolved by Dec. 8, which includes the number of election lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign over the course of November. 

The words and actions of elected leaders matter, whether it’s at the local, state, or federal level.”

— Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democratic Congresswomen

Six days later, on Dec.14, electors from each state will cast a paper ballot in their state capitals. In thirty-six states, including Washington DC, strict regulations require electors to follow the direction of the popular vote. Penalties for voting against the majority can result in the replacement of an elector. 

Five days after the end of 2020, on Jan. 6, the House and Senate will hold a joint session to count the electoral votes. After a candidate has reached the magic number of 270, the President of the Senate–Mike Pence–will announce the results. However, it isn’t until Jan. 20, 2021, when the President-elect becomes President of the United States. 

The Presidential Transition Committee, the nation’s premier nonpartisan transition team, explains the importance of preparing for this process:  

“It’s sufficiently clear that the transition process must now begin. […] As candidate Biden becomes President-elect Biden, he and his transition team will quickly shift from campaigning to governing.” 

The advisory board also notes, “To build an effective government ready to address the urgent needs of our great country, the new president will have to recruit 4,000 political appointees, including 1,250 who require Senate confirmation; prepare a $4.7 trillion budget; implement a strong policy agenda; and assume leadership of a workforce of 2 million civilian employees and 2 million active-duty and reserve troops.” 

Since early November, the Trump Administration has filed many lawsuits in an attempt to delegitimize the election outcome in court. In five states, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Trump’s claims of voter fraud have been backed by little to no evidence. 

Hours after Trump claimed that a voting system deleted “2.7 million votes nationwide,” a group of local, state, and federal voting agencies quickly debunked the accusation: 

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said a statement from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

In court, the impact of these allegations has had little to no legal victory for the Trump administration, but the falsehoods affect democracy not just in the United States, but on a global stage.

Tammy Baldwin, a current democratic senator from Wisconsin, stated in a short interview: “The words and actions of elected leaders matter, whether it’s at the local, state, or federal level. Right now, the world is watching as we had record-breaking voter turnout […] The voters have let their voices be heard, and the will of the American people will stand. That’s something we should all be proud of, and it’s an important message to send to the rest of the world.” 

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