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Explained:How and when are election outcomes finalized?

Election outcomes are finalized by means of processes known as canvassing and certification. Canvassing typically refers to how state and native officers verify the validity of ballots solid in an election. Certification is the method authorities use to formalize the election outcomes based mostly on the canvass. However, some states, localities, and commentators use the phrases interchangeably to explain the complete strategy of counting ballots and formalizing outcomes.[1]

Election outcome certification deadlines are set in state regulation. Certification deadlines for the 2020 election are as follows:

  • The certification deadline in six states is inside one week of the election.
  • In 26 states and the District of Columbia, the certification deadline is between November 10 and November 30.
  • In 14 states, the certification deadline is in December.
  • Four states (Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Tennessee) would not have statutory deadlines for outcomes certification.


What about recounts? A recount is a course of by which votes solid in an election are re-tabulated to confirm the accuracy of the unique outcomes. Recount legal guidelines differ by state, however the two most typical sorts of recounts are robotically triggered and requested. In 20 states, outcomes inside a sure margin of victory robotically set off a recount course of. In 43 states, candidates, political events, and voters (varies by state) could request a recount. In the occasion {that a} recount happens, the results of the election are placed on maintain till the recount is resolved.

The precise timing of when a recount could be triggered or requested additionally varies by state. Some states permit for recounts to happen after canvassing however earlier than outcomes are made official by means of certification. Other states require each the canvassing and certification of outcomes earlier than starting a recount course of

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