Battleground Florida: What happens after Election Day?


(Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – The political ads may stop today, but the process of electing a new president stretches until next year.

Following the closure of many states’ polling locations at 7 p.m. Tuesday, a large chunk of totals will have been counted from early voting and mail-in ballots. By 11 p.m., an estimated 90% of votes will have been tabulated.

Though it may seem that you’re voting for the candidate, you’re actually casting a vote for an elector— a representative in the Electoral College.

By Wednesday, the process of wading through whatever litigation that may arise begins, while states begin to certify results.

In states that are overwhelmingly red or blue, this may be a relatively smooth process, complete with the laws of each state as a guide. The process may be a bit more lengthy in states such as Florida, where candidates tend to win by a razor-thin margin.

When all results are in, each governor must then create reports of voting totals, called Certificates of Ascertainment.

According to federal law, results must be certified “as soon as practicable.”

By Dec. 8, states must resolve any disputes to the voting results in order to send electors to the Electoral College. If not, the results would be deemed inconclusive.

Federal law requires the Electoral College to vote on Dec. 14, from their respective locations, to cast two paper ballots— one for president and another for vice president.

Votes are tabulated and electors sign six certificates called Certificates of the Vote, which are then sealed and certified with the Certificates of Ascertainment and delivered by Dec. 23 to:

  • The president of the Senate (the vice president of the United States)
  • The secretary of the state in the state in which the electors met
  • The archivist of the United States
  • The judge of the U.S. district court in the district where the electors met

The House and Senate will hold a joint session on Jan. 6 to count the votes of the Electoral College and declare the official results.

Whichever ticket receives 270 or more electoral votes “shall be deemed a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President.”

The inauguration is then held on Jan. 20, where the president and vice president are sworn in.


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