Electoral college key dates

December

S

M

T

W

T

F

S

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

States finalize elector appointments

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

Electors cast votes in each state

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

Vice president receives electoral votes

27

28

29

30

31

January

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

3

1

2

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

House and Senate count electoral votes

11

12

15

16

13

14

17

24

18

19

20

21

22

23

Presidential

inauguration

25

31

26

27

28

29

30

Electoral college key dates

December

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

States finalize elector appointments

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

Electors cast votes in each state

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

Vice president receives electoral votes

28

29

30

31

January

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

3

1

2

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

House and Senate count electoral votes

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

24

18

19

20

21

22

23

Presidential inauguration

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

Electoral college key dates

December

January

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

M

T

W

T

F

S

S

3

1

2

3

4

5

1

2

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

13

House and Senate count electoral votes

States finalize elector appointments

14

15

16

17

18

19

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

20

Electors cast votes in each state

24

18

19

20

21

22

23

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

Presidential inauguration

Vice president receives electoral votes

25

26

27

28

29

30

28

29

30

31

31

President Trump and his allies have tried to undo the results of the 2020 election with falsehoods about voting security, lawsuits and direct pressure on Republican legislators and officials — an effort critics have denounced as an unprecedented subversion of democracy.

One of Trump’s immediate goals has been to delay or derail formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win in key battleground states, either by persuading judges to block the process or compelling officials not to certify results, based on false claims that the election was tainted by massive voter fraud.

That effort has failed. All six battleground states in which Trump was challenging the results — Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin — have formally certified Biden’s win.

On Nov. 23, Trump relented, authorizing the federal government to begin the transition process to the incoming Biden administration.

But the president and his allies have continued to paint the result of the election as illegitimate, seeking to create more upheaval in the run-up to the electoral college’s formal vote on Dec. 14.

If Biden is officially declared the victor in contested states by Dec. 8, federal law says Congress will presume those results to be conclusive when it comes time to finalize who won. This creates an incentive for states to settle disputes by then, although the deadline is not binding.

Legal experts said the drawn-out calendar of formally electing a president in the United States makes it vulnerable to efforts to disrupt the process.

“It’s one of the really terrible features of the electoral college,” said Paul M. Smith, vice president for litigation and strategy with the Campaign Legal Center. “… It’s this long, multi-state process in which lots of different players can try to play. It’s full of potential for unfortunate interference.”

Georgia

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp certified the statewide election results — including Biden’s win — on Nov 20. Both are Republicans.

A federal judge on Nov. 20 denied a request from Trump ally L. Lin Wood to block certification of Georgia’s results, a decision Wood is appealing. The Trump campaign has said it will file a separate lawsuit challenging the results but has yet to do so.

Recount

A hand-count audit of all presidential votes confirmed Biden’s lead, at more than 12,000 votes. But the Trump campaign on Nov. 21 filed a petition for a formal recount, which involves re-scanning the roughly 5 million hand-recounted, audited ballots by machine. The machine recount, which began Nov. 24 and is expected to conclude Dec. 2, is not expected to change the outcome.

Reported by Michelle Ye Hee Lee

Michigan

The Michigan Board of Canvassers voted Nov. 23 to certify the state’s election results.

Before that, the president had made a remarkable personal intervention in the state’s vote certification process by calling a member of the Wayne County canvassing board, who subsequently sought to withdraw her vote to certify the tally in her county. He also invited a delegation of GOP state legislators to the White House.

Trump’s allies hoped the two Republicans on the four-member state canvassing board would refuse to certify, a move they argued would have opened the door for the GOP-controlled legislature to get involved. However, state election-law experts said there is no role for the legislature in Michigan’s certification process.

Three out of four board members — including one Republican — voted in favor of certification.

Legal challenges

Republicans have failed to gain legal traction in Michigan, where judges have repeatedly noted a lack of evidence for GOP claims of voter fraud and election irregularities. On Nov. 19, the Trump campaign withdrew its most recent federal lawsuit, which sought to delay certification by pointing to alleged wrongdoing in Wayne County, home of Detroit. A similar suit filed on behalf of a Trump voter was withdrawn the day before.

Of the half-dozen Republican lawsuits filed in Michigan since Election Day, only one remained active past mid-November — a state case claiming fraud and wrongdoing in Wayne County. The plaintiffs sought to block Wayne County from certifying its votes, but a series of judges, including on the Michigan Supreme Court, rejected their request.

Reported by Tom Hamburger and David A. Fahrenthold

Wisconsin

On Nov. 30, the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Election Commission, Democrat Ann Jacobs, completed her state’s canvass and declared Biden the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes, a declaration that was then certified by Gov. Tony Evers (D).

Recount

The Trump campaign requested a recount of the presidential vote in two Democratic-leaning counties. It began on Nov. 20 and concluded Nov. 29. It reconfirmed that Biden beat Trump, by more than 20,000 votes.

State law includes a provision giving a campaign that loses a recount five days to challenge the results in court, meaning that the Trump campaign could still seek to challenge Evers’s move. Legal experts, however, have said the Trump campaign’s legal arguments are thin and they will face an uphill battle in court.

Reported by Rosalind S. Helderman

Nevada

The seven judges of the Nevada Supreme Court officially accepted the election results on Nov. 24. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) took the final ministerial step of issuing certificates of election and publicly announcing the winners on Nov. 25.

Trump can now demand a recount regardless of Biden’s margin of victory, which is more than 33,000 votes.

Legal challenges

The Trump campaign is pursuing a formal challenge to Nevada’s election results, asking a state court to declare him the winner or annul the election entirely, meaning no presidential victor would be certified in the state. The hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 3.

To prevail, Trump’s attorneys will have to show that there were enough fraudulent votes to cast doubt on Biden’s win. That outcome appears unlikely; judges have rejected multiple lawsuits filed by Republicans in recent weeks, ruling that the campaign presented little or no evidence to support claims of wrongdoing and fraud in the election.

Reported by Emma Brown

Arizona

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) finalized the state’s election results on Nov. 30 in the presence of the governor, the state attorney general and the chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, all of whom are Republicans.

Legal challenge

State Republican Party chairwoman Kelli Ward filed a formal challenge on Nov. 30 to the state’s election results after they were certified. A judge also agreed to allow her to have a team of handwriting experts inspect 100 mail ballot envelopes and 100 duplicated ballots that had been filled out by election workers when original ballots were damaged in advance of an evidentiary hearing.

All other Republican lawsuits alleging problems with the election have been withdrawn or dismissed in the state, though Trump allies have said more challenges could be coming.

Reported by Hannah Knowles and Emma Brown

Pennsylvania

Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) certified Biden’s victory on Nov. 24 after receiving official confirmation of the presidential vote totals from all 67 counties in the state. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) then signed a certificate selecting Biden’s slate of electors, which was submitted to the federal government.

Legal challenges

Since the election, more Republican lawsuits have been filed in Pennsylvania than in any other battleground state. Yet the party has had virtually no success, as judges repeatedly rejected the claims of voter fraud, of GOP election observers being blocked from access and of alleged mishandling of deficient mail ballots in several counties.

The Trump campaign has faced several major defeats in court. On Nov. 21, a federal judge dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit seeking to block certification of the presidential election. In a scathing opinion, U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann said the campaign used “strained legal arguments without merit” and “speculative accusations” to claim Republican voters were illegally disadvantaged because some Democratic-leaning counties in Pennsylvania allowed voters to fix administrative errors on their mail ballots. On Nov. 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected Trump’s request for an emergency injunction to overturn the certified results, with a Trump-appointed judge writing for a three-member panel that the campaign’s challenge had “no merit.”

Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis said the campaign would seek to take the case to the Supreme Court, but Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani later said the team was still weighing its strategy. It is unclear exactly what relief they might seek, as the 3rd Circuit’s decision addressed a technical matter about whether the campaign could amend its lawsuit.

The state Supreme Court has also ruled against Trump and his allies. On Nov. 28, it dismissed with prejudice a GOP lawsuit seeking to invalidate more than 2.5 million votes cast by mail in the general election.

Separately, a review of a state Supreme Court decision to uphold an extended receipt deadline for mail ballots is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reported by Jon Swaine

Federal deadlines

Deadline to resolve elector disputes: Dec. 8 | Electoral-college vote: Dec. 14

The state certification process is just one step in the process of determining an electoral-college winner. Dec. 8 is known as the “safe harbor” deadline, serving as a warning bell for states to resolve disputes over who won. If contested states produce a settled result by that date, federal law says Congress will consider that result conclusive when it formally tallies votes from presidential electors. If Trump’s effort challenging Biden’s victory causes states to miss that deadline, it means they will not have the added benefit of the “safe harbor.” It does not mean that Trump’s elector slate will prevail.

Reuben Fischer-Baum and Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.