When Will We Know the Winner of the 2020 US Presidential Election?

By Jennifer Hassan in Politics
| November 1, 2020 3:47 am PST
When Will We Know Who’s Won the 2020 Presidential Election?

It has already been a wild year. The election next Tuesday is not going to fail us in terms of the shock, awe, and entertainment we have already been subject to regarding the candidates, the political parties, and a little, forgotten piece of paper called the United States Constitution.

Let’s review what we already know about this election.

First, we know that voting takes place on Tuesday, November 3rd. Ever since 1845, election day has been on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Thus, election day always lies between November 2nd and November 8th.

Before a standard voting day was established, states had a month to collect and tally their votes. This made the entire process chaotic, with no one knowing the winner until deep into December. (On the bright side, these election months were apparently massive, alcohol-binging hootenannies.)

Boy, I’m glad those days of confusion are over! Oh, wait. In 2000 we had Gore winning the popular vote, Bush contesting it and then “winning” due to votes from the state where his brother was governor, and in which votes were missing and/or improperly processed.

In 2016 we had faithless electors voting improperly for the candidate their states had not elected, skewing the race and rendering hundreds of thousands of votes null and void.

And now, in 2020…well, let’s wait and see, shall we? The wait will not be long.

Second, we know that President Trump has hinted that if he is not re-elected, he may refuse to leave the White House. So…that’s fun.

The benefit of this potential behavior is that since most of us have been stuck inside for the better part of a year, Washington D.C. hijinks and the concomitant infantile drama can only lift our spirits and make us feel better about our own lives (kind of like People Magazine).

Furthermore, this kind of uncertainty makes for great betting odds. Did you know that you can bet on the 2020 election? Online sportsbooks have put their statisticians on the case, and are offering bets at some juicy odds, on both sides of the political spectrum.

When will we find out who’s won the election this year? Let’s take a look.

When Does the Loser Concede the Election?

When the result of the election becomes obvious, the candidate who is trailing in the polls, and who has relinquished hope of becoming the victor, will concede the election to the winner-apparent.

This is a gracious and graceful move, done before the actual results have been tallied. It is a way of allowing the support staff of the losing candidate to pack it in, go home, get some much-needed rest after grueling months on the campaign trail.

Sometimes, however, the loser does not go quietly into that good night. Think of a toddler being dragged away from a party. Yeah, like that.

Given the personalities involved in the 2020 US presidential election, don’t expect a graceful concession call from the loser to the winner.

What if the Loser Does Not Concede the Election?

If a president who is already ensconced in the White House does not want to admit that he has to move out of the house in January, then he can create problems.

After the election, which is in early November, the current president still gets to stay in the White House until the official hand over of power, in January. Who knows how much damage an angry loser can do to a property (and to the presidency itself) in two enraged months?

According to The Atlantic, the threat of lawsuits generated by an out of control incumbent could push an already tense nation over the edge. Already, the Trump presidency has seen violence, attack, and anonymous kidnappers in swat gear let loose upon the populace (the very people paying the salaries of their tormentors).

In a normal year, if the loser did not concede the election, he or she would be forcibly removed from the premises on the date of the power transfer. But now, in 2020?

No one knows what can happen. Political analysts are white-knuckled, contemplating all of the discord one human being can sow.

When Are Election Results Officially Announced?

It differs every year. In years past, there have been hot topic issues regarding improperly processed ballots, slanderous implications of voters abusing the process (Republican voter Terri Lynn Rote was caught voting twice in Iowa in 2016), and other accusations which obfuscate the election).

The election results will be officially announced when every vote is in and counted. Given the massive use of mail-in votes in 2020, the counting process may take longer than usual.

The need for social distancing will slow down the process in 2020 as well, as counters, poll workers, and voters themselves must all be set up in a way that will reduce the risk of potentially deadly infection.

The bulk of election results will be announced on election night. However, it is possible that there will still be absentee ballots that need to be counted. Depending on how many there are, these last ballots may or may not ultimately affect the final decision of who will be POTUS for the next four years.

Furthermore, some states allow mail-in ballots to begin being counted before election day, while other states mandate that no votes be counted until the start of election day.

I know that was not the concise, clear answer you were looking for. To recap: we should have all or most votes counted by the end of election day. There may be upsets, confusion, and impediments, however, that may prevent calling a clear winner.

Our Job

Just remain hopeful. It takes a cruise ship three hours to make a U-turn. No matter who is elected in 2020, the next several years will simply be healing from the virus and all of its financial, social, and educational fallout.

Depending on who is elected, repairing our international relationships will also be a big task, as will creating an international bio-emergency task force so that no one country becomes decimated by another such outbreak in the future.

Acknowledging a world community is a big part of effective responses to crises

Regardless of the victor, many of our tasks as a nation over the next four years are already pretty predictable.

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