Now What Happens? Uncalled States, Lawsuits, Recounts & More
On Saturday, it was officially announced that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. While states continue to count votes and the Trump campaign continues to allege fraud, it is difficult to know what happens next. Between now and Inauguration Day, there is still much to take place.
When To Expect Results From The Remaining Uncalled States?
Arizona (11 Electoral Votes)
Although some networks, such as the Associated Press, have already projected Biden as the winner of Arizona state, it remains too close to call for other networks to officially do the same. As of today, 98% of votes have been counted with Biden leading by just over half a percent with a nearly 17,000 vote lead over current President Donald Trump. The majority of the votes still to be counted are from the Phoenix, Pinal, and Tucson counties which have been showing favor for the Democratic party.
Arizona has reported that they still have approximately 70,000 votes to count but did not provide an exact timeframe for when we should be expecting the final results.
Georgia (16 Electoral Votes)
With 98% of votes counted, Biden currently leads in the historically red state of Georgia by only 0.21% and just over 10,000 votes. Georgia still has several provisional ballots that need to be cleared which include ballots that contain errors that voters are allowed to fix. Many of these provisional ballots are from the Fulton county area which has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Democratic party.
There has not been an exact timeframe provided for when we should be expecting final results.
North Carolina (15 Electoral Votes)
With 98% of votes counted, Trump currently leads North Carolina by 1.4% and over 75,000 votes. Per North Carolina state law, all mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day will be counted through November 12th. The majority of the counties that still have the most outstanding uncounted votes – such as Buncombe, Fayetteville, Forsyth, and Cumberland – have all been in favor of the Democratic party. It is not yet clear though if the remaining votes, which are expected to continue to be in favor of Biden, will be enough to turn the state from red to blue.
Alaska (3 Electoral Votes)
With only 56% of votes counted, Trump leads Alaska with a striking 29.9% and over 51,000 votes. It is important to note though that Alaska has not begun to count the over 100,000 absentee and early votes received. Alaska will not begin counting the mail-in ballots until this week with ballots expected to continue to arrive until the state’s deadline of November 18th. Alaska has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.
It is important to keep in mind that several states beyond the ones listed above continue to count votes. However, the above states are the only ones remaining that are too close to call for an official projected winner.
The Electoral College Certification Process
Trump’s campaign and other members of the GOP have made claims that Biden cannot yet be considered the President-Elect as not all electoral votes have been certified. However, electoral votes are never certified on Election Day.
Following the final tally of votes, each governor is required to prepare “Certificates of Ascertainment” which list the state’s electors’ names and the number of votes for the parties. The certificate is then sent to the archivist of the United States.
States have until December 8th to resolve any election disputes. All recounts must be completed by this date. On December 14th, the electors will sign “Certificates of the Vote” to be sent to various officials. These certificates must be received by December 23rd.
On January 6, 2021, the House and Senate will hold a joint session to count the electoral votes. When one candidate reaches the required 270 electoral votes, the president of the Senate, which is current Vice President Mike Pence, will read the results.
On Inauguration Day on January 20, 2021, the President-Elect is sworn into office.
The Recounts Process
With so many states at such close margins and the Trump team filing lawsuits, recounts are bound to happen. The Trump campaign has already called for a recount in Wisconsin and it is anticipated that Georgia will be requested to recount as well.
In Wisconsin, a candidate can request a recount if the margin between candidates is less than 1%. This is the case. The loser must file a petition for recount by 5:00 PM on the first business day after the state has received the final results.
With Georgia as close as it is, it is expected that a recount will be requested. There are grounds for a recount when the losing candidate lost by less than 0.5%, which is currently the case. This request must be made by the losing party and must be received by the Secretary of State within two business days after the results of the election are certified.
The recounting process is expensive and at the expense of the requesting party. It could cost the Trump campaign millions of dollars.
What Chances Does Trump Have Of Contesting The Results?
Next to none. Trump, his team, and his supporters continue to spread false claims that the election has been fraudulent by way of “illegal” votes and fraudulent polling volunteers. However, neither Trump, his team, nor his supporters have been able to produce any evidence proving these claims. In fact, Trump’s team has filed nearly a dozen baseless lawsuits, many of which have been dismissed or rejected by the courts.
Trump’s supporters also continue to spread mixed messages across the country. In states where Trump is ahead in votes, they chant to “Stop the count!”. In states where Trump is behind in votes, they chant to “Keep counting!”.
Assuming recounts are initiated, recounts rarely change the outcome of statewide elections. Historically, recounts may adjust the margins by a few hundred votes but this will not be enough to change the results of the election.