Tuesday, November 10, 2020


I knew only a little bit about what happened after an election was "called", but this year I was curious enough to seek out some more information. It turns out that there are a whole lot of post-Election Day processes that have always been carried out, but I certainly have never seen them featured front and center in the news and knew very little about the details. Here is what happens in the aftermath.  

Warning: this may be the most dull and/or boring post I've ever written, due to too much information that maybe not a lot of people care about and no pretty pictures. Proceed at your own risk!

Once regular ballots have been counted, local election officials process provisional ballots (ballots cast when the voter’s identity or eligibility to vote was uncertain) and “canvass” the election. That just means that they prepare results and report to the state. The state then canvasses the election as well. State law governs the postelection processes, so there are 51 different ones (each state plus Washington, D.C.) There are a long range of deadlines for each local or county canvass and varying state deadlines as well, some of which are shown below.

I can't enlarge the chart above any further, but you can access it here and view it in full screen if you are interested in your state's dates. 

Media sources (like the AP) may project the winners of races long before these dates, but those are just projections. The winner of each state contest is not final until the certification has been completed. For the presidential election, states have a hard deadline of December 14th, when electors of the Electoral College must meet and vote to certify their results. Congress will certify the Electoral College votes in a joint session on Jan. 6. Then it's really official!

And then there is the General Services Administration, the governmental agency headed by Trump appointee Emily Murphy. She is tasked with officially affirming that Biden has won the election, and does this by signing a letter to release funds to the Biden transition team through a process called ascertainment. This would mark the first formal acknowledgment from the Trump administration that Biden has won the election, and it would also unlock access to national security tools to streamline background checks and additional funds to pay for training and incoming staff. Biden’s transition team cannot receive official government email addresses until Ms. Murphy signs those papers, they don’t get access to federal offices, and they can’t do the necessary work of filing papers with the Office of Government Ethics for financial disclosures and conflict-of-interest forms. I'm not placing any bets that this will happen anytime soon. 

If you'd like to read more or find out more information about your specific state, these are good places to start:

National Conference of State Legislatures


If you've gotten this far, thanks for sticking with me to the end! I promise a return to knitting and reading tomorrow.


  1. Well, it is BIG business for sure. I had heard early Saturday morning that the Secret Service had stepped up protection on Biden (when it was pretty evident he would win) and that air space over his home in DE had been restricted. I'm betting those papers won't be signed any time soon either.

  2. Yep. I think we're in for (in the words of Jesssica Yellin at News Not Noise) a "turbulent" couple of weeks! So buckle up and hang on tight. Thanks for this informative post, Bonny. (Not boring at all.) XO

  3. I am really stressed out by what our current POTOUS (Toddler-in-Chief) is doing. Thank you for researching and letting us all know how this works. I think Trump will do everything he can too "burn the process down" because that is just the way he is. So sad and troubling for our great democracy. :-(

  4. At my house, we often go through the list of synonyms from the scene in Good Will Hunting with George Plimpton, "no shenanigans, no ballyhoo, and no tomfoolery". It's a memory test as well as a way to make both of us smile. I have been taken by Trump's use of the term shenanigans to allege voter fraud. I find that term to evoke practical jokes, and that's how serious his allegations are. However, we are going to have to sit through lots of ballyhoo, shenanigans, and tomfoolery for the next while. It will sow chaos, but I am hopeful that it will all fall apart sooner rather than later. Thankfully, the Biden campaign has lots of experience and contacts in Washington and this will not slow them down too much. I think this post was very educational, Bonny, not boring at all.

  5. Sigh. Those people are really trying everything they possibly can to delay the inevitable, aren't they? The latest I heard on legal action here in PA is that they're alleging that mail-in ballots violate the Equal Protection Clause because they discriminate against people voting in person, or some such nonsense. That's the equivalent of me complaining that Starbucks is discriminating against people who drink their coffee on the spot by offering to-go beverages.

  6. Having worked a number of elections, the true hero's of election day (besides all the voters!!) are all the workers who help with the canvassing. **They all** just want to accurately report the numbers, despite that 70% of the Republican's don't believe they do that. It is sad that the thing that separates us from almost all of the world (our peaceful transfer of power) is not a given. I emailed Emily Murphy yesterday... I am not sure it will make a difference, but I made my voice heard.

  7. Not boring! Kind of fascinating actually! Wonder when the transition will actually happen???

  8. I agree with Beckster that we are lucky that the Biden campaign is an experienced group of people. It is so nice to realize that our country will once again be run by an administration that knows what they are doing. I can't stop thinking "no more Jared Kushner in charge of anything!"

    1. It's such a shame that this is going to be dragged out, but Joe is a class act who seems to be ignoring it and pressing ahead with business. It's amazing how hard they can make things for the transition, and all of it just on this side of the law. It will be interesting to see how turbulent the weeks ahead get - like when he pardons himself and his kids.

  9. This is not boring and, while I hate that it's happening this way, I do appreciate all I am learning about the entire election process. C'mon January 20th!

  10. Your post was actually frightening! I had no idea that Trump could stop the process!

  11. Very informative, Bonny - thank you! The biggest new thing I've learned these past couple of weeks is that it's bonkers how different each state's rules are.

  12. I ask myself the same old question: Can you imagine what would have happened if Obama did that??

    And then I make the same old declaration: DESPICABLE!!

    I can't wait to change my tune.


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