What Happens Next?

The timeline from Presidential Election Day to Inauguration Day

A timeline from election day to inauguration day. Abby VanHorn graphic.

With the 2020 Presidential election occurring about a month ago, most would believe that the process was over once Joe Biden was announced as the president-elect, however, there is a lot that still needs to be done for the election to be finalized.

After election day (or week in this case) is over, states must count and certify the results. According to AP News, “each governor is required by law to prepare ‘as soon as practicable’ documents known 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 each state, is sent to the archivist of the United States.”

This process and potential recounts or ballot disputes were required to be completed by December 8. But, this process is not the end of the election, on December 14 electors from each state are to vote on paper for a candidate. However, according to AP News, “ [States] have laws or party regulations requiring electors to vote the same way the popular vote goes in the state.” 

So even though electors voting is an essential part of the election process, electors have to vote the same way that the people in their state did. Once these votes are completed, just a few weeks before Inauguration Day, on January 6, 2021, Congress will meet to count the electoral votes and this is when the election will be officially over. 

This process is a long one, and often goes ignored by most Americans, but naming a new president isn’t a one and done process, but rather a very meticulous one that follows the Constitution very closely. Until Biden is sworn into office at noon on January 20 (Inauguration Day), but he has no actual government power until then. In the two and half months from Election Day to Inauguration Day, Biden will spend his time thoroughly preparing for his presidency. As seen on many news outlets, Biden is already forming a plan to combat COVID-19 and will implement this plan on his first day in office. The President-elect is also spending his time forming his senior staff which he has already announced part of on Twitter and various news outlets.

As for President Trump, as his presidency starts to wind down, he is to carry on like normal. He is also expected to concede, which as of right now, he is refusing to do. Concession, in politics, is when a losing candidate publicly acknowledges the winning candidate. So it’s basically Trump saying okay I lost, good luck to the new president. In the past, losing candidates have admitted to calling the winning candidate and congratulating them or publicly wishing them well. President Trump not conceding isn’t illegal in any way, but rather a break in tradition. If Trump decides to not Concede by inauguration day, nothing will happen to either man, but the election will end on a little bit of a bitter note. 

With Biden’s presidential term beginning in just a few weeks, the government continues to work behind the scenes to complete the election process.