• By The Financial District


The US presidential election reached a key milestone on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 (Wednesday, December 9, 2020 in Manila) when the so-called "safe harbor" deadline arrives, which will effectively lock in the states' votes and largely prevent Congress from getting involved, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.

In the US system, voting for president is somewhat indirect. Each state is allotted a certain number of electoral votes, based on population size. The winner of the presidential election is the candidate who reaches 270 electoral votes in the Electoral College. Democrat Joe Biden beat incumbent President Donald Trump by more than 7-million votes and beat him in the Electoral College with 306 votes to 232.

The safe harbor deadline comes 35 days after Election Day and allows time for any disputes to be settled. If any state certifies its result by the deadline, Congress cannot later intervene to overturn the decision of voters in those states.

This then sets up the key event next week, when the Electoral College vote takes place on December 14, 2020. This normally quiet process has gained attention this year as President Donald Trump has refused to concede that he lost the election and is fighting legal battles in a number of states to overturn the result for president-elect Joe Biden, losing practically all of them. There was some concern Trump could try to prevent states from certifying their votes on time, though this has not materialized, despite immense pressure from the president on some Republican officials in key swing states won by Biden.