WASHINGTON (AP) — Saturday’s election judgement isn’t the final step in selecting an American president. Under a system that’s been tweaked over two centuries, there is still a monthslong timeline throughout which the 538-member Electoral College picks the president.
A look at the key steps:
— When American citizens vote for a presidential candidate, they in reality are voting for electors in their state. Those electors usually are dedicated to enhance the voters’ candidate of choice. The number of electors is the same as the number of electoral votes held by every state. State laws differ on how electors are selected but, typically, a slate of electors for every party’s candidate is chosen at state party conventions or by a vote of a party’s central committee.
— After Election Day, states count and certify the result of the preferred vote. When completed, every governor is required by law to prepare “as soon as practicable” documents referred to as “Certificates of Ascertainment” of the vote. The certificates list the electors’ names and the number of votes cast for the winner and loser. The certificate, carrying the seal of every state, is sent to the archivist of the US.
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— Dec. 8 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.
— Dec. 14: Electors vote by paper poll 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 preferred vote goes in the state, and in some states, electors can even be replaced or subjected to penalties, according to the Congressional Research Service. The votes for president and vice president are counted and the electors signal six “Certificates of the Vote.” The certificates, at the side of other official papers, are sent by registered mail to quite a lot of officials, including the president of the Senate.
— Dec. 23: The certificates will have to be delivered to the designated officials. Whether they don’t seem to be delivered, the law provides alternative avenues for getting the results to Washington.
— Jan. 6, 2021: The House and Senate hold a joint session to count the electoral votes. Whether one ticket has received 270 or more electoral votes, the president of the Senate, currently Vice President Mike Pence, announces the results.
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Members of Congress may thing to returns from any state as they’re announced. Objections will have to be made in writing by a minimum of one member of the House and one in the Senate. Whether the objection meets sure requirements, every chamber meets one after the other to debate the objection for a maximum of two hours. Afterward, every chamber votes to accept or reject the objection. Back in joint session, the result of the respective votes are announced. Any objection to a state’s electoral vote must be approved by both houses to ensure that any contested votes to be excluded.
Whether neither presidential candidate wins a minimum of 270 electoral votes, the House comes to a decision the election, based on the 12th Amendment to the Charter. Whether required, the House would elect the president through a majority vote.
— Jan. 20: The president-elect is sworn into office on Inauguration Day.