VS1 Cloud Blog
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday, November 7 passed the 270 vote electoral college threshold needed to claim victory in the 2020 presidential election, making him president-elect of the United States and Senator Kamala Harris vice president-elect.
Trump has not conceded and his campaign has vowed to challenge the election results in certain states.
Some states, like Pennsylvania, automatically trigger a recount if the race is close. In Pennsylvania, that’s anything under a 0.5 percent margin between candidates. In others, like Wisconsin, where the Trump campaign has said it will seek a recount, it must be triggered by a request from a candidate.
Regardless of a state’s laws regarding recounts, state officials must meet the deadline – this year, December 8 – to appoint the electors who will decide the winner based on a certified final count. If they meet that so-called “safe harbour” deadline, Congress is required to accept those electors.
States are strongly incentivised to meet this standard.
While uncommon and based on individual state law, instances can emerge where recounts and legal disputes persist beyond the “safe harbor” deadline, which can lead to a swath of complex scenarios that include state officials and legislatures appointing rival slates of electors. In such an incident, Congress makes the final determination on which electors will be accepted.
There are 538 electoral votes, and the number of votes in each state matches how many US senators and representatives that state has in Congress. Washington, DC also has three electoral votes. In most states, all electoral votes are given to the candidate who wins the most votes in that state, although this is not necessarily required by law.
Two states – Maine and Nebraska – have slightly different systems: Two electors vote for the candidate that wins the state’s overall popular vote, while a third elector votes based on which candidate wins the most Congressional districts in that state.
Currently, 33 states and Washington, DC, have laws that require electors to vote for the candidate that wins the popular vote in their state.
While it is a norm, in states without laws requiring it, for electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote in the state, so-called “faithless electors” have in the past voted for a different candidate or declined to vote. Such an occurrence is relatively rare and has never decided a presidential contest.
On December 14, electors across the country cast their votes by paper ballots in their respective states and the District of Columbia, which has three electoral votes. Those results must be delivered to the US capital and other relevant officials by December 23.