Workers construct the stage for the presidential inauguration at the US Capitol on December 1 in Washington, DC.
Workers construct the stage for the presidential inauguration at the US Capitol on December 1 in Washington, DC. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Voters voted. States counted the votes. Challenges were heard and rejected. Now the Electoral College has made President-elect Joe Biden’s victory completely official.

The time for President Trump’s repeated baseless allegations of fraud is over, but that doesn’t mean the drama has ended. Lawmakers follow an archaic timeline set out the Constitution and US law to make Biden president.

Just as then-Vice President Biden oversaw the counting of electoral votes that gave Trump the White House in 2017, now it will be Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s loyal soldier these last four years, who will announce the vote tally that officially makes Biden the winner. Read more about that here.

And Republicans will have to choose how deeply they want to follow Trump into his rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.

Here are key dates to watch from now until Inauguration Day:

Dec. 23

  • Electoral votes must arrive in Washington.
  • The certified electoral votes have nine days to get from their states to Capitol Hill.

Jan. 3

  • New Congress is sworn in.
  • Members of the House and new members of the Senate take the oath of office at noon. This is the official start of the 117th Congress. However, Georgia’s two Senate seats will remain unfilled until after a runoff election scheduled for January 5.

Jan. 6

  • Electoral votes counted in Congress.
  • Members of the House and the Senate will meet in the House chamber. The President of the Senate — that’s Vice President Mike Pence — will preside over the session and the electoral votes will be read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate. They will then give their tallies to Pence, who will announce the results and listen for objections.
  • If there are objections, the House and Senate consider them separately to decide how to count those votes.
  • There are 538 electoral votes — one for each congressman and senator plus three for Washington, DC. If no candidate gets to a majority — that’s 270 — then the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote. So while there are more Democrats in the House, Republicans, as of now, control more state delegations, so it is possible the House could pick Trump even though there is a Democratic majority.
  • The House has until noon on January 20 to pick the President. If they can’t, it would be the vice president or the next person eligible in the line of presidential succession.

Jan. 20

  • Inauguration Day.
  • A new president takes the oath of office at noon. If the President-elect dies between Election Day and Inauguration, the vice president-elect takes the oath of office and becomes President. In a disputed election, if the House has not chosen a President but the Senate has chosen a vice president, the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House makes a choice. And if there’s no president-elect and no vice president-elect, the House appoints a president until one is chosen.



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