The next deadline for the US presidential election on Tuesday further delays the already unclear prospects of President Donald trump challenging the results of the elections in November – many States may become inaccessible to legal claims.
Under Federal law, Congress does not have the right to ignore electors nominated by a state six or more days before the General electoral vote. In the US, elections are two-stage. First, voters vote for electors in each state, with all electors from the state going to the winner of the popular vote. In the second stage, the electors vote for the President. This year, the electoral vote will be held on December 14.
The deadline six days before the vote is also called a “safe haven.” By resolving issues with the vote count by this date, a state will protect itself from claims to the election results since Congress will be required to count electors’ votes from the state. Of course, if the state is late and misses the “safe Harbor” deadline, it can still nominate its electors to vote, but then, in theory, there may be objections in Congress, even from individual deputies. However, it is unlikely that the Congress or individual congressmen went against the will of the voters.
This protective measure was put into effect by Congress in 1887 after a particularly bitter election the year before, in which Republican Rutherford Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden met. Then four of the state were sent to Congress by two different results of voting of the electors. To prevent this conflict situation from happening again, a kind of guarantee was invented in the form of a “safe Harbor.”
Trump does not admit defeat in the election, contrary to the States’ data, and insists that he won the election. As a result, some scenarios with electors have already ceased to seem fantastic. For example, many Trump supporters believe that state legislatures can, against voters’ will, appoint electors who are friendly to Trump. Trump himself called for something similar to be done in Georgia, but the state leadership, which, by the way, consists of Republicans, refused to convene the legislature to review the election. Georgia has already counted the ballots twice and approved the calculations, according to which Joe Biden beat Trump by a small margin and received all 16 electors from the state. But what if the Georgia legislature still went along with trump and nominated its electors who support the President, and not the candidate who won the state? This is what a “safe Harbor” is for: as of December 8, there is a result of the national elections approved by the Governor and the corresponding delegation of electors, Congress should count the votes of these electors and not any others.
The “safe Harbor” deadline is important for many states – for example, it was Florida’s desire in 2000 to meet the deadline that led to the Supreme Court decision that suspended the recount and gave all of Florida’s electors and election victory to George W. Bush, not to Albert Gore.
The consideration of lawsuits by the trump headquarters in seven States that declared Biden the winner is still ongoing: these are Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. But the very existence of a lawsuit pending in court does not necessarily mean that the state will “float” past the “safe Harbor” unless the judge specifically orders that the formation of a team of electors from the state be suspended. Do not forget that none of the approximately 50 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign and its supporters has been satisfied by the court. Also, judges are generally skeptical of trump’s claims of major election violations. Trump’s appointees also supported the judges in the Executive branch – Attorney General William Barr, for example, said that there were no violations that affected the outcome of the election.
According to preliminary data, Biden won 306 electors and Trump-232. This result should become official following the electoral vote results on December 14, and final and not subject to any appeal-after Congress approves the electoral vote results on January 6.