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2024 Election: Key Dates Beyond Election Day

Election Day marks the final day on which voters can cast a ballot in the 2024 election. But the electoral system for choosing and inaugurating our president extends well beyond November 5. Notably, the Electoral Count Reform Act, enacted in late 2022, updated certain dates and procedures in the electoral vote counting process that will be in effect for the first time in the 2024 election.

Election Day: Tuesday, November 5, 2024

This is the final day on which votes can be cast in the 2024 election. In many states, opportunities to cast ballots will have begun days or weeks ahead of Election Day. Even in states where mail-in ballots can be received after Election Day, such as California, they must have been cast and postmarked by Election Day.

The election serves as the appointment of electors of president and vice president and must take place in accordance with the laws of the state enacted prior to Election Day.

Once the polls close, election officials complete the process of counting the votes and certifying the results, which takes place in the subsequent days or weeks depending on state law

Certificate of Ascertainment of Appointment of Electors Issued: no later than December 11, 2024

Every presidential election year, the executive of each state issues a certificate of ascertainment, which names and appoints the individuals who will cast the state’s electoral votes for president and vice president. The certificates are treated as conclusive in Congress with respect to the determination of electors appointed, except in the event of judicial relief described below.

Certificates include:

  1. the names of the electors;
  2. the state’s certified election results (also known as the “canvass”) or, in some cases, another determination under the laws of the state of the number of votes given or cast for each person considered for elector;
  3. the seal of the State; and
  4. at least one security feature, set by the state, for purposes of verifying the authenticity of the certificate.

The executive of each state transmits the certificates to the Archivist of the United States immediately after their issuance “by the most expeditious method available.”

Provisions enacted in 2022 establish a legal venue and expedited judicial procedures in the event an aggrieved candidate for president or vice president challenges the certificates issued by a state’s executive. In the event the judicial process finds, prior to the date of the meeting of electors, that a  certificate of ascertainment must be issued or revised, that certificate shall replace and supersede any other submitted certificates.

Meeting and Vote of Electors in their States: Tuesday, December 17, 2024

The electors meet in their respective states on the first Tuesday after the second Wednesday in December (which, in 2024, is December 17) to cast their votes for president and vice president. The meeting of electors in each state is governed by state law enacted prior to Election Day. Electors sign multiple certificates attesting to the votes they have given, sign and endorse the certificates, and transmit them to officials in Washington, DC, and their state.

Deadline for Electoral Votes to be Received: December 25, 2024

By the fourth Wednesday in December (December 25), officials in Washington, DC—the president of the Senate or the Archivist of the United States—should receive the certificates from each state. If not received, the president of the Senate or the Archivist shall request the chief election officer of the state(s) to send up the certificate that was retained in their state.

119th Congress Convenes: January 3, 2025

A new Congress convenes every two years on January 3 of the year following federal elections (unless Congress sets another date by law) when representatives-elect and senators-elect will be sworn in. For the House of Representatives, the first order of official business is the election of the Speaker.

Congress Counts Electoral Votes: January 6, 2025

On January 6, following the meetings of the electors, Congress shall be in session and the House and Senate shall meet in the Hall of the House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m., with the president of the Senate or a designee presiding. In this joint session, the electoral certificates properly ascertained for each state are counted and tallied, and the result of the count is announced by the president of the Senate.

Provisions enacted into law in 2022 clarify that the role of the president of the Senate while presiding is limited to “performing solely ministerial duties” with “no power to solely determine, accept, reject, or otherwise adjudicate or resolves disputers over the proper certificate of ascertainment of appointment of electors, the validity of electors, or the votes of electors.”

Inauguration Day: January 20, 2025

The people declared to be elected president and vice president take their respective oaths of office at 12:00 p.m.

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