Electoral College Timeline of Events
Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated three electors and treated like a State for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “State” also refers to the District of Columbia and the word “Governor” also refers to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.
November 3, 2020—Election Day
(first Tuesday after the first Monday in November)
During the general election your vote helps determine your State's electors. When you vote for a Presidential candidate, you aren't actually voting for President. You are telling your State which candidate you want your State to vote for at the meeting of the electors. The States use these general election results (also known as the popular vote) to appoint their electors. The winning candidate's State political party selects the individuals who will be the electors.
Mid-November through December 14, 2020
After the presidential election, the Governor of your State prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment. “As soon as practicable,” after the election results in your State are certified, the Governor sends one of those original Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist.
By December 8, 2020—States resolve controversies
(at least six days before the meeting of the electors)
States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the electors. This is so their electoral votes will be presumed valid when presented to Congress. Decisions by States’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day.
December 14, 2020—electors vote in their States
The electors meet in their respective States and vote for President and Vice President on separate ballots. The electors record their votes on six Certificates of Vote, which are paired with the six remaining Certificates of Ascertainment. The electors sign, seal, and certify six sets of electoral votes. A set of electoral votes consists of one Certificate of Ascertainment and one Certificate of Vote.
December 23, 2020—electoral votes arrive
Electoral votes (the Certificates of Vote) must be received by the President of the Senate and the Archivist no later than nine days after the meeting of the electors. If votes are lost or delayed, the Archivist may take extraordinary measures to retrieve duplicate originals.