After the Voting Ends: Canvassing & Certifying

November 30, 2020

We’re kicking off a new series How Does the Process Work? with information about what happens *after* you vote in a presidential election.

Thanks to the great team at the National Conference on State Legislatures, we’re able to bring you in-depth information about the entire process. Check out other parts of the series on the Electoral College and the process to elect a new president:

  • Nominating Electors
  • Faithless Electors
  • The Electoral College in 2020

An election isn’t over when the polls close. It’s over when election administrators complete their post-election activities and the election results are certified. As with everything else related to elections, state law governs these processes—and there are 51 models (the states plus Washington, D.C.). This post focuses on how they count and certify the ballots that you cast.

What is canvassing? And when does it have to be completed in Wyoming?

The NCSL writes: “According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a canvass refers to the ‘compilation of election returns and validation of the outcome [of the election] that forms the basis of the official results by political subdivision.’ In lay terms, the canvass is the counting of election returns at the local or state level. State law usually defines in statute when the canvass must be completed.”

Wyoming is like a number of other states in that counties must canvass results within one week after election day. The 14 states on the same canvassing timeline are Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.

Wyoming is one of 22 states that have statutory language such as “not later than,” “by,” “before,” or “within” that specifies the deadline by which state canvasses and/or certifications must be completed: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

We know you’re asking yourself, what about certification? When does Wyoming have to certify its results? And what does certification mean, anyway?

The NCSL writes: “The certification of election results is a review done by someone other than the election officials themselves, and it gives assurance that the election results are correct. Certification can be done at the local level but is always done at the state level by the chief election official of the state, the state board of elections or some other entity.” 

Wyoming is one of 12 states where counties must certify results to the state within one week after election day. The others who certify as quickly as we do: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia.

Want to know about the nomination of electors and the awarding of electoral college votes? Click here!

Heard of “faithless electors” and want to know what they are, what the Supreme Court of the US has to say about them, and how the Wyoming Statute deals with them? Click here!

Curious about the canvassing and ballot certification process that happens post-election day? Click here!

Wondering where the Electoral College came from—and why we still have it? Here are three good places to start.

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