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What if the election results are disputed



Even in a normal election year, a presidential election is not easy.

The states counted the popular votes based on the early and Election Day ballots, but the president was ultimately chosen by the Electoral College, comprising electors from each state. Here’s how it usually works:






One candidate wins the majority


This year, it can hardly be so smooth.

The large volume of mailed ballots means that counting and reviewing can take longer than usual. Results may be close enough in some states to draw recounts. And experts say the likelihood of a legal challenge in one or more battlefield states is very high.

It may take weeks before President Trump or Joseph R. Biden Jr. named the winner. In some scenarios, the competition runs until 2021.






A candidate

win the majority

Vote of the US House of Representatives

for the president


The army of lawyers for the Trump and Biden campaigns are preparing for a fierce litigation. Mr. Trump has long pushed allegations of voter fraud without evidence and questioned the validity of the vote by mail. Lawsuits over time to vote and when to count or vote the ballot have been filed in key states.

“This election will not be resolved until a losing candidate admits defeat and congratulates his opponent,” said Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University. “And if the candidates don’t make the final decision for us that way, the legal process has to give it to us.”

Below is the degree of uncertainty regarding the outcome over the coming days and weeks that could lead to battles in court, in the Electoral College and ultimately in Congress.

Dispute about the results

The results that states report on election night – or hours after that – are always unofficial, as it can take days or even weeks for officials to count, confirm and certify the vote.

Results may be close, and candidates can dispute the original results.







Told: In some states, like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the state will start automatic ballot counting if the informal voting ratio is nearing the end. In other states such as Iowa and Nevada, candidates may request a recount regardless of margin.

During the 2000 presidential election, a narrow percentage in Florida triggered a recount in all counties, and Al Gore then filed a lawsuit to force the hand-counting in four predominantly four counties. Democracy.

Debate results: The dispute over whether election officials are counting too many votes or too little could spark a wave of lawsuits in both state and federal courts that could eventually find their way to the Supreme Court. .

In some states, members of law enforcement or other bodies have a say. In Texas, the governor has sole authority to resolve presidential election disputes. In North Carolina, the Independent State Electoral Commission may have the final word.

And in every state, the legislature can enter the electoral selection process.

Dispute over electoral votes

States must designate their electors before the Electoral College meets to formally vote. This year, the deadline to select electors to ensure their votes are counted by Congress is December 8. This is called the “safe harbor” deadline.

Recounting and legal challenges can threaten a state’s ability to meet deadlines.







Solved over the term: If the results of a recount or a dispute take place quickly, a state can appoint its electors and the governor will prepare a certificate detailing the popular vote numbers and electorate.

Most states designate their electors to the winner of the statewide popular vote. Nebraska and Maine assign electors by district of parliament, and two votes belong to the winners of the statewide vote.

Unresolved by deadline: The state legislature has the constitutional authority to appoint state electors, regardless of the status of the popular vote, and especially when a state has not yet made a decision before the safety deadline. The state legislature can decide that the electoral results, still in dispute, are illegal and choose their own electors.

In 2000, the Florida majority Republican Legislature voted to choose a group of electors supporting George W. Bush, even as the courts were still handling recounts.

Disputes may not end there. Electoral law experts warn governors and lawmakers may disagree over the results, and each can choose to designate rival electoral groups in favor of different candidates.







In some battleground states, the governor comes from a party other than the majority party in the state legislature, establishing the possibility of a duel between electors. Both groups can meet to vote and Congress will have to decide which votes to accept.

Disputes in Congress

The electors will meet in each state on December 14 to vote. But some electors may choose to vote for a candidate different from the one they have promised to support or refuse to vote outright – these voters are called “unethical electors. believe”.

The newly elected parliament will meet on January 6 to formally count electoral votes and appoint the president. If there is no clear winner in the Electoral College, the National Assembly will hold a random election.






A candidate

win the majority

Vote of the US House of Representatives

for the president


One candidate wins the majority: Congress counts electoral votes from each state alphabetically, with the vice president presiding over. A candidate needs a majority of the votes to win. That number is 270, unless Congress removes a state’s electoral votes. Members of Congress can oppose or reject electoral votes, even though the process is complicated and rare.

No majority: If the tallying results show the candidates are tied or if no candidate receives a majority, the House of Representatives will vote to choose the president. The state delegation only received one vote, so a candidate would need 26 votes to win.

Mr. Foley, an Ohio state law professor, said it is possible Congress could fail to do its job on January 6, with two candidates each still claiming to have won. The country faced a similar situation in 1876, when allegations of voter fraud forced a special electoral commission to decide the election just two days before its inauguration.

“I think it’s a fundamental problem in our American political system that we have this loophole that we have not fixed, even though we have come close to this catastrophe,” said Mr. Foley. here”.


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