What Happens Next?

Social distancing, superspreader and Karen are just some of the new terms that have entered our lexicon in 2020. Now add “interregnum.” 

This year’s higher odds for a contested election are putting new attention on the “interregnum period” between the election and inauguration, when a number of scenarios could play out. 

President Trump may call for a same-day determination of the results or a state’s election results might not be accepted by both parties. Possible litigation and/or protests are also on the horizon. 

But here’s a timeline of what we do know: 

  • Today: Election Day
    • An initial vote count takes place based on in-person returns and tallied mail-in votes. Some have raised the possibility of a “red mirage” followed by a potential “blue shift.” 
  • December 8: Safe harbor deadline for states to decide electors
    • States have 35 days to finish counting eligible votes, resolve lawsuits and select electors to submit ballots in the Electoral College.
  • December 14: Electoral College delegations meet in their states and vote
    • If controversy remains regarding the electors – including if multiple sets of electors are submitted from each state due to unresolved disputes– it falls to Congress to decide which electors, if any, cast ballots.
  • January 6: Joint session of Congress convenes to formally count Electoral College votes
    • Votes are tallied and if one of the tickets receives over 270, the Senate President – currently Vice President Mike Pence – announces the result. An objection at this stage could lead to a presidential selection by the House. But if the House is unable to choose, the vice president becomes president. (If that all seems too complicated, this NSFW clip from Veep gives you an idea).
  • January 20: Inauguration Day
    • The current term of the President and Vice President ends at noon.

You can learn more about the interregnum here.