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Trump Has Until today, the “Safe Harbor Deadline” to Fight the Election Results


UPDATE: Today is December 8th the Safe Harbor Deadline, the deadline for resolving all election disputes. All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results must be completed by this date. All of the battleground states contested by President Trump’s campaign have certified votes showing Joe Biden as the winner. But court cases are still active in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin.

The safe harbor deadline is the day by which states must certify their elections and select the winning slate of electors. It’s an important day for states because meeting this deadline ensures their electoral votes will be counted by Congress. In 2000, the safe harbor deadline played a role in the outcome of the contested election between George W Bush and Al Gore, as the Supreme Court issued a ruling on Safe Harbor day that effectively ended Florida’s recount because the court said it could not be completed by the safe harbor deadline.

Senator Ted Cruz says he will argue the Pennsylvania election fraud case before the US Supreme Court if the high court opts to hear it. We should know by today if SCOTUS will take up the appeal. Time is running out because next week, Dec. 14 the electors meet in each state and cast their ballots for president and vice president. Jen and Bill will speak with Phil Kline at 7:00 to find out if that is a hard and fast deadline.

The 2020 Presidential Election could end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Remember, in 2000 SCOTUS decided the Bush v. Gore case that was deadlocked in Florida. In that case, the high court indicated that it prefers uniformity.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that this lack of uniformity violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, which guarantees equal weight for votes.

So how much time is there for President Trump to fight the election results in court? According to election expert, Dr. Sean Foreman, even if Joe Biden is declared the winner today with 270 Electoral votes, the win is not official until the “Safe Harbor Deadline,” December 8th 2020 when the Electoral College meets to count the Electoral Ballots. And then the U.S. Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes. Dr. Foreman also explains that if the popular vote in each state cannot be legally counted, then each individual state legislature can make the determination as to which candidate will receive the their electoral votes.

Dr Foreman Electoral college

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has proposed pushing back the safe harbor date in legislation introduced last month. But Congress has not acted on the bill, and some states put the safe harbor provision into their own laws, according to CNN.

According to unnamed sources who spoke with the Atlantic, the Trump campaign is discussing plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states.

“With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly,” according to the Atlantic. “The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe harbor deadline expires.”

Republicans control both chambers of the legislature in the top six battleground states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Arizona and Florida, the governors are also Republican. In the other four states, the governors are Democrats.

If a GOP-controlled legislature was to appoint electors for Trump, but the Democratic governor refuses to certify them, which decision would control? “No one knows” the answer for sure, according to the New Yorker.

The Electoral College is a unique method for indirectly electing the president of the United States and it does have a strict timeline. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the clock is ticking for the Trump campaign.

Dec. 8, 2020: Deadline for Resolving Election Disputes. All state recounts and court contests over presidential election results must be completed by this date. (3 U.S.C. § 5). For the majority of states the date of certification is the same as for all contests, but in eight states there is a deadline that either directly references 3 USC §5 or uses similar language, requiring that disputes surrounding the selection of presidential electors be resolved in time to meet the “safe harbor” deadline: Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. For detailed information on state post-election processes, please visit this page.

Dec. 14, 2020: Meeting of the Electors. The electors meet in each state and cast their ballots for president and vice president. Each elector votes on his or her own ballot and signs it. The ballots are immediately transmitted to various people: one copy goes to the president of the U.S. Senate (who is also the vice president of the United States); this is the copy that will be officially counted later. Other copies go to the state’s secretary of state, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the presiding judge in the district where the electors meet (this serves as a backup copy that would replace the official copy sent to the president of the Senate if it is lost or destroyed).
Dec. 23, 2020: Deadline for Receipt of Ballots. The electors’ ballots from all states must be received by the president of the Senate by this date. There is no penalty for missing this deadline.

Jan. 6, 2021: Counting of the Electoral Ballots. The U.S. Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes.
Jan. 20, 2021: Inauguration Day. The president-elect becomes the president of the United States.

Listen to the full interview with Barry University’s Dr. Sean Foreman here.

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