Certification is usually just a formality. But the process took on new significance this year as Trump’s legal team sought to delay finalizing the results – a strategy to deny Joe Biden his rightful victory in the Electoral College, which votes on Dec. 14.
The idea is that if there is no certification, Republican-led state legislatures in a few key states – particularly Michigan and Pennsylvania – could nominate pro-Trump voter lists, even whether Biden won the popular vote in those states.
The whole program revolves around December 8. This is the “Safe Harbor” deadline under federal law. This means that when Congress counts electoral votes in January, it must accept voters who were certified before the deadline. If a state missed the deadline, then Congress may consider contested voters lists.
Trump’s subversion efforts therefore become impossible if key states certify their results before that date – but the whole election remains on the line if Trump’s team can push certification past the magic date.
Philadelphia County is scheduled to meet on Monday or Tuesday. Berks County is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. An ongoing lawsuit filed in state court by Trump supporters over the weekend tries to delay certification, though it is unlikely to disrupt the process.
The Trump campaign also appealed in a separate state trial after Judge Matthew Brann of the Pennsylvania Middle District U.S. District Court on Saturday dismissed their efforts to invalidate millions of votes in Pennsylvania.
Legal experts have told CNN the chances of the appeal being successful are inconceivable.
Once the counties certify the results, the information is sent to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar who will then award the state’s 20 electoral votes to the winner.
In Michigan, the State Council of Solicitors is due to meet on Monday to certify the state’s election results, but there is a lot of attention on what its two GOP members will do.
According to Representative Paul Mitchell, who spoke a few days ago with Norman Shinkle, one of the two GOP members, Shinkle has indicated that he will vote against the certification of election results until a investigation is completed in order to push a delay – even if there is no evidence of fraud or fault that would necessitate such a step.
Shinkle told the New York Times that he had received hundreds of messages supporting and opposing certification. “You can’t make up your mind until you have all the facts,” he told The Times.
There is also drama elsewhere.
In wisconsin, who is not expected to certify the results until next month, a Republican member of the Election Commission posted a tweet praising a well-known conspiracy theorist who has spread false allegations about electoral fraud.
And in Georgia, who has already certified results, the Trump campaign has called for an official recount, although he is unlikely to change his loss in the state.
The bottom line: All of this chaos caused by Trump’s team might not go nowhere. But it has turned the generally procedural process of states certifying their results into a drama that, at a minimum, allows doubt to spread over the validity of the election – and, in the extreme, gives Trump an unexpected opening for himself. clear a path in retaining power. It’s unlikely, but Trump has already surprised everyone.
Here’s the full rundown of the states expected to finalize their vote totals this week, according to CNN’s political unit:
- Arizona (county certification deadline)
- Michigan (state certification meeting)
- Pennsylvania (county certification deadline)
- Tennessee (county certification deadline)
- North Carolina (State Certification Meeting)
- Nevada (state certification meeting)
- Massachusetts (likely, according to state election officials)
- Ohio (state certification meeting)
Arizona and Wisconsin, two other states that were late screenings, are expected to certify the week after Thanksgiving.
CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Kelly Mena contributed to this report.