ATLANTA — The presidential race in Georgia is divided by such a small margin that there is no clear winner at this point, but when will we officially know who the winner is?
Channel 2′s Justin Gray asked the Secretary of State’s Office if we’ll have a winner by the end of November, and they responded with the step-by-step process to declare a formal winner.
[SPECIAL SECTION & LIVE RESULTS: Election 2020]
With the difference in the race about the size of an average high school, there will be a recount in Georgia and there will be lawsuits which could slow down the process. There’s also a Dec. 14 deadline to select electors for the Electoral College.
Here’s what happens next:
- The deadline to cure absentee ballots is Friday Nov. 6. All military votes and provisional ballots must also be counted as well.
- Counties need to certify their own elections by 5 p.m. on the second Friday after the election, so Nov. 13.
- The state will then conduct “risk limiting audits". This is the first time it has happened in Georgia because of HB 316 - a bill that allowed for absentee ballot curing and funding for Georgia’s new voting machines. State law says: “‘Audits performed under this Code section shall be conducted by manual inspection of random samples of the paper official ballots.”
- This leads to the state certification by Nov. 20, however the Secretary of State’s Office is hoping to move this date up by working with the counties, because a recount is expected.
- Once the vote is certified, because the vote is likely to be within .5%, the loser of the presidential election will then call for a statewide recount. A recount cannot take place until the audit and state certification are complete.
- Georgia has never done a statewide recount with the new election system, but the state predicts the full recount to take 5 days.
- According to state law, the Secretary of State is required to take the returns for presidential electors and must present them to the governor no later than 5 p.m. on the seventeenth day following the election, which is Nov. 20.
Any lawsuits that develop during this process could alter how votes are counted and reviewed. The Secretary of State’s Office must follow any judicial orders at this time, which could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
What happens after that with the Electoral College?
- The governor must file “Certificates of Ascertainment” which list the candidates, their votes and the electors. The Certificate must be sealed and one copy is delivered to the Archivist of the United States.
- Monday after the second Wednesday in December is the date electors meet. This year that is Dec. 14. The electors meet separately by state at a place designated by the state legislature. The vote takes place by paper ballot. One vote for president and one vote for vice president.
- The electors sign a Certificate of Vote which is delivered to the states and the President of the U.S. Senate, who is Vice President Mike Pence.
- On January 6, a joint session of Congress meets at 1 p.m. to count the electoral votes. If a candidate has received a majority of 270 or more electoral votes they are elected President and Vice President.
- The president and vice president are then inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, a date set by the Twentieth Amendment.