A timeline of the Presidential certification process that Trump is trying to disrupt
By Maggie Astor
As President Donald Trump and his Republican allies continue trying to undermine the election, the certification of the vote totals in each state is the next major step in formalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
A key part of the Republican strategy has been to delay certification processes in battleground states that Biden won, in the hopes that, if state officials miss their deadlines, legislators will subvert the popular vote and appoint pro-Trump slates to the Electoral College. But that’s extremely unlikely to happen.
Here’s a breakdown of the certification deadlines and other key dates in battleground states, and what will happen between now and Inauguration Day.
Monday, Nov. 23: Michigan, Pennsylvania
Biden won these two states.
In Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers on Monday officially certified the results previously certified by canvassing boards in each county. Three of the four board members — two Democrats and one Republican — voted in favor, while the fourth, a Republican, abstained.
Among the decisive swing states Biden won, Michigan was the second to certify its results. It followed Georgia, where Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, signed off Friday; a machine recount requested by the Trump campaign will begin this week, but Biden’s lead is much too large to expect a recount to overcome.
Trump’s campaign had tried to block the certification process in Michigan in the hopes of getting Republican state legislators to overrule millions of voters and appoint a pro-Trump slate to the Electoral College. The canvassing board’s vote Monday torpedoed that effort. (Republicans could still sue, but such a lawsuit would be very unlikely to succeed.)
Monday is also the deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals and send them to Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the commonwealth, who will certify the state results. Pennsylvania doesn’t have a hard deadline for when Boockvar must sign off, but she is likely to do so by Monday.
Last week, a court rejected a last-ditch effort by the Trump campaign to block certification in Pennsylvania. The campaign then filed an extremely narrow appeal that, even if accepted, would not delay the certification process, and that could be moot after certification. It is possible that, post-certification, the campaign could file a new lawsuit, but that, too, would be unlikely to succeed.
No current lawsuit that could change the results of the election, in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, is likely to make it to the Supreme Court at this point.
Tuesday: Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina
In Nevada, which Biden won, the state Supreme Court will meet Tuesday to certify the results. Ultimately, the governor will need to confirm the outcome. The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit baselessly claiming that Trump actually won Nevada, and conservative groups are trying to nullify the results, but these claims are highly unlikely to lead anywhere.
This is also the certification deadline for Minnesota and North Carolina, neither of which is expected to be contentious. Biden won Minnesota; Trump won North Carolina.
This is the deadline for Ohio, which Trump won, to certify its results. No challenges are expected.
Monday, Nov. 30: Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska
Arizona has to certify its results by this date, as do Iowa and Nebraska. Biden won Arizona, Trump won Iowa, and in Nebraska, Trump won statewide but Biden won one electoral vote in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
The Arizona Republican Party asked a court to postpone certification in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, but a judge rejected the request Thursday.
Given this, counties are expected to certify on time and Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state and a Democrat, is expected to sign off on the final, statewide certification.
No disputes are expected in Iowa or Nebraska that could delay certification.
Tuesday, Dec. 1: Wisconsin
This is the deadline for Wisconsin, which Biden won, to certify its results.
Wisconsin has already completed county-level certification, but the Trump campaign is seeking a partial recount, which, if it proceeds, should be complete by the deadline and is not expected to alter the results significantly. Once the recount is completed, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will meet to certify the results statewide.
Tuesday, Dec. 8
This is a key date in the democratic process: If states resolve all disputes and certify their results by Dec. 8, the results should be insulated from further legal challenges, ensuring that states won by Biden will send Biden delegates to the Electoral College.
The certification processes leading up to this date vary from state to state, but the final step is the same everywhere under federal law: The governor of each state must compile the certified results and send them to Congress, along with the names of the state’s Electoral College delegates.
Monday, Dec. 14
Electors will meet on Dec. 14 in their respective states and cast their votes. This vote is, constitutionally, what determines the next president.
Biden has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Many states formally require their electors to vote for the candidate they pledged to vote for, generally the winner of the state’s popular vote. Historically, rogue electors have been few and far between, and have never altered the outcome.
Wednesday, Jan. 6
Congress is ultimately responsible for counting and certifying the votes cast by the Electoral College, and it is scheduled to do so on Jan. 6.
If there are still disputes at this point — if Republican legislators in a state were to appoint a pro-Trump Electoral College slate in opposition to voters’ will, for instance, and the Democratic governor of the state were to appoint a pro-Biden slate — it would be Congress’ job to resolve them. Election law experts say that under federal statute, the governor’s slate should be favored.
Wednesday, Jan. 20
Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.