Joe Biden was named the new president of the United States on Saturday. But he won’t be this until January 20, 2021, when he takes the official oath at the Capitol in Washington DC. What happens until that day, while Donald Trump is still president?
Until November 23: counting of votes
All sorts of things will happen until January 20. This all has to do with the American electoral system, in which the voter did not officially vote for Biden directly. Technically, they voted for electoral votes from the various states, who are part of the electoral college that will ultimately determine the president.
They will only do this when all votes have been fully counted and verified. And as we saw last week when counting, it can take quite some time.
In the complicated political system of the United States, each state has different rules regarding the counting of votes. This year it is even more complicated with the large number of people who voted by mail.
That’s the way it is: some states count post votes for days, as long as they are marked November 3 (election day). In most states that is one or two days, but in a state like Washington, votes count that arrive on November 23rd.
The counting is done very accurately, so it takes some time. Between November 10 and December 11, all states must have issued their final results.
Most final results will come in soon, but if there is a small margin for the Republican or Democratic party to request a recount (if possible), it may take longer. Incidentally, it seems unlikely that this will happen, as the margins in the major swing states that helped Biden win are large enough.
It is then already a month after Biden claimed his winnings, but officially all states (with except California) on this day have counted all votes, cleared up all disturbances and determined a winner.
States must produce a statement in which they without doubt declare a candidate the winner. That is important, because that list goes to the electors.
Those electors are not virtual votes, but real persons (men and women by the way). In practice, they are people who have standing within both parties. They will therefore almost always vote loyally for ‘their’ candidate, according to the results, but this is not required in some states.
The Monday after the second Wednesday in December, the electors of each state must make their selection and send the result to Washington. This year, that day falls on Monday December 14.