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Fear not. Trump cannot dispute the vote indefinitely

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | November 15, 2020

Joe Biden has won. He will be our next president.

Normally, the loser of the race would give a gracious concession speech, and accept the results.

That won’t happen this time around, because Donald Trump is a pathological narcissist who will never admit defeat. But there’s no legal requirement for the losing candidate to formally concede – it’s just another tradition Trump will choose to ignore.

He can bluster and protest all he wants, but like it or not, the Constitution and federal law establish a clear timeline of how electoral votes are processed, and when the new president takes office. Here’s how that process normally plays out, how Trump might try to undermine it, and why he is unlikely to succeed.

The first date to look out for is December 8th. After Election Day, states have until this date, called the “safe harbor” deadline, to resolve any election disputes. Each state has a unique process outlined in its state constitution for this, and the federal deadline was created so that state electoral disputes don’t drag on endlessly.

Next is December 14th. This is when the electors meet in their states, and cast paper ballots for president and vice president. And then governors certify the electors’ votes.
The governor sends these certified results to Congress by December 23rd.

On January 6th, 2021, the newly sworn-in Congress meets in a joint session to officially accept each state’s Electoral College votes and count them. This is normally a ceremonial event in which the already-settled results of the election are simply made official. This is when the presidential race formally ends.

Lastly, on January 20th, the president and vice president are inaugurated.

Normally, no one pays much attention to this process before Inauguration Day because it goes off without a hitch. But we’ve seen that Trump will do anything to hold onto power. It’s important to know how and when he might try to undermine this process, and also understand how unlikely it is he’ll succeed.

Trump backers are trying to push Republican-controlled state legislatures to appoint their own slates of Trump electors. That’s why the campaign has launched empty legal challenges to perfectly normal vote counts – trying to sow enough doubt to give the state legislatures political cover to appoint their own electors.

This isn’t likely to happen. It would be challenged as an unconstitutional power grab, since state legislatures have almost always deferred to the results of the state’s popular vote in assigning electoral votes. And not to mention, it would spark massive public outrage.

Thankfully, it doesn’t look like Republican legislators in any of the key swing states want to expend their political capital defending a failed president, and some have even explicitly come out against this plan.

All this is to say, be patient, keep the faith, and don’t fall into Trump’s cry for attention. We must see this for what it is: A final attempt of a desperate, bitter man to cling to power.

Joe Biden will be our next president.

The column above and the video below are cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog.

Comments to “Fear not. Trump cannot dispute the vote indefinitely

  1. While Trump may be running out of time, he definitely is trying to make it harder for the incoming administration to function both domestically and internationally ( read mike pompeo’s visit to disputed settlements in west bank and accepting them as part of Israel). It is also disappointing that the republican senators and leaders are not helping the cause by being on the sidelines during this covid crisis and not taking a open stand on the transition process.

  2. Like the Durants documented in their epic Story of Civilization, if the politicians and/or academics can’t save our civilization, no one can.

    And the latest, never-ending news about change in Presidents, global warming disasters, pandemic deaths, out of control violence and inequalities prove our civilization is crashing and burning, especially since you refuse to inform, educate and motivate the public to save us from ourselves.

    Academics like you were our last resort, God Help Us!

  3. Donald J. Trump
    Donald J. Trump Verified Account

    I won the Election!
    5:51 AM – 16 Nov 2020

    Fake news lol!

  4. do you remember when Democrats unconstitutionally tried to get electors to vote in the electoral college contrary to the manner in which they were required under law. Biden may be the next president, but it will certainly be to the detriment of the country.

    why do i groan everytime Reich gets published on so much diaper changing. why not let alumni Gutfeld have a shot at it every now and then.

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