Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
Most people understand that Election Day in the U.S. is always the first Tuesday in November. They may be less aware of various important dates and deadlines that follow.
The Constitution lays out a multi-step procedure that must be followed over the course of 10 weeks after Election Day before the presidential winner can be seated.
This year, as Democrats and Republicans alike are bracing for possible legal fights after Nov. 3, those dates are taking on added importance.
Much is still unknown about what might transpire after the election, so new dates and deadlines might emerge.
But until then, this is the schedule that must be followed between the election and the inauguration:
Again, there could be any number of developments that could upset the schedule. One of them that has gotten attention is the possibility that a state would submit competing slates of electors to Congress – this could happen in a state where there is a close race and the governor and legislature represent different parties.
This happened in the 1876 election, when neither Democrat Samuel Tilden nor Republican Rutherford B. Hayes had enough electoral votes to claim victory. In three states representing 19 electoral votes, both sides claimed victory. With no mechanism in place to resolve the issue, the two sides cut a political deal: The Democrats gave those electoral votes, and the presidency, to Hayes (even though he received 260,000 fewer votes than Tilden) in exchange for an end to federal Reconstruction policies in the South. This paved the way for the South's enactment of Jim Crow laws.
In 1887, Congress passed the Electoral Count Act to address the procedures to follow if that happens again. That law has never been used and has been widely criticized as being unclear. In one interpretation, Congress would count the electoral slate backed by the governor of the state; in another, the electoral votes in the disputing states would not be counted at all. Its potential impact is unknown.
In most election seasons, election day marks the end of a long grind. This year, though, it may be just the beginning.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.