The ‘Safe Harbor’ Deadline Is upon Us

Trump Pence by The White House is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

On the menu today: As of tomorrow, under U.S. law, the 2020 presidential election is really, really, reallyover, under something called the “safe harbor deadline.” The Supreme Court might weigh in on Representative Mike Kelly’s suit, which aims to invalidate all of the mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania this year. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign’s last-ditch legal efforts and attempts to sway state legislatures continue in Arizona and Wisconsin . . . with a, er, consistent record of success.

Tomorrow, under U.S. law, the election results in each state become finalized under what is called the “safe harbor deadline.” The law declares that any completed and certified vote count “made at least six days before the time fixed for the meeting of the electors, such determination made pursuant to such law so existing on said day, and made at least six days prior to said time of meeting of the electors, shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes as provided in the Constitution.”


Federal law sets “the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December” as the date for electors to meet in each state and in the District of Columbia — which this year is December 14. Six days before December 14 is tomorrow.

As of this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court has a few hours to act upon a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania GOP representative Mike Kelly, who argues that his state’s vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional and that every mail-in ballot cast in the state should be thrown out. This is the case that the Pennsylvania supreme court dismissed “with prejudice based upon [Kelly’s] failure to file the constitutional challenge in a timely manner” — concluding that Kelly should have filed his objection to the state’s mail-in ballot law before the state’s June 2020 primary election and the November general election.

Trump Pence by The White House is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0