Count the Vote
What’s the most popular come-back of the week?
“The election’s a done deal! Get over it!”
Get over the shock, yes! But, remember that the election didn’t end when polls closed Tuesday night. Whether anything changes or not, the process goes on until the Inauguration.
At the local/state level:
... are still accepted and counted by several states. Rules vary widely from state to state, but some accept mailed ballots up to 10 days after the election. Mailed ballots are hard copies, so envelopes must be matched to the voter rolls, then opened and the ballots counted (usually) by hand. Absentee ballots can and have affected the final count.
… are cast at a polling station on Election Day if the voter’s eligibility is in question. Questions arise from a simple error or illegible handwriting. Or because the voter has been caught in a vote purging effort.
Challenges and recounts
… may take place. Some states fund an automatic recount in a very close race (1 point or less difference). In most, voters or a political party may challenge the vote, call for a recount, and pay the expense. Such challenges arise when vote tampering or hacking of electronic systems is suspected.
The deadline for finishing the count, then, may be even later, up to December 19, this year. As the states finish their job, the process connects to the federal level. It’s dull reading that glosses over a lot of potential drama.
Mid-November through December 19, 2016
The governor of each state prepares Certificates of Ascertainment and, as soon as “practicable,” sends one to the Archivist of the United States (head of the National Archives). This should happen by the time of the Electoral College elector’s meeting.
December 13, 2016
States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the Electors. Decisions by states’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day.
December 19, 2016
The Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President. They send the result on a Certificate of Vote, which goes with their state’s Certificate of Ascertainment to the President of the Senate, et al.
December 28, 2016
Electoral votes (the Certificates of Vote) must be received by the President of the Senate and the Archivist no later than nine days after the meeting of the electors.
On or Before January 3, 2017
The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House in late December or early January.
January 6, 2017
The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count, announces the results of the Electoral College vote, and then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.
If no Presidential candidate has won 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the House of Representatives elects the President, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote is taken by state, with each state having one vote. The process is repeated for Vice President, but with the Senate voting.
Objections to the Electoral College vote must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator, with the House and Senate then considering the merits under procedures set out in federal law. (See 2004!)
January 20, 2017 at Noon—Inauguration Day
The President-elect takes the Oath of Office and becomes the President of the United States.
Key Dates in the 2016 General Election
Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
National Association of Secretaries of State
Explore a little, visit your state’s SOS site, linked to NASS.
(Hint: tons of details in training materials for precinct election officials)