Updated: Sep 18, 2022
January 20th marked the beginning of a new administration in the White House, a change in the leadership of this country, the start of something new. This transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, however, was not as smooth as it should have or could have been.
When Congress first passed the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, they said, “Any disruption occasioned by the transfer of the Executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people.” The Constitution lays out the steps that must occur before a new president takes office. These include the Electors being chosen, the states certifying their results, the Electoral College vote, and lastly, Congress certifying the Electoral College results. Normally, these dates and deadlines go by without much fanfare or notice, but this year was far from normal.
As with almost all aspects of life, the coronavirus pandemic interfered with the election too. In an effort to make voting safe during the pandemic, many states adopted mail-in voting systems. For months before the election, now-former-President Trump tried to sow doubt about this system, and for about ten days following the election, he falsely claimed that 2.7 million votes for him were “deleted”. It took until November 23, twenty days after the election, for the administrator of the General Services Association, Emily Murphy, to sign the Letter of Ascension, formally acknowledging now-President Biden’s win and allowing the transition to actually start. After making this decision, Ms. Murphy said, “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts…To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination.”
In the days following the election, many states began to certify their results. On December 20th, over a month after the election and about a week after the Electoral College formally voted in favor of Biden, the Trump campaign announced that they would take the fight to the Supreme Court. The state of Texas also filed a lawsuit saying that the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin were unlawful. The Supreme Court refused to even hear the case, stating, "Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” Despite this and many other failures in the courts, the Trump campaign refused to back down and concede.
On January 6th, a date that will never be far from anyone’s mind, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol building while Congress was certifying the election results. President Trump is the person whom most people blame for the insurrection, citing that he laid the foundation for the distrust in the election results months before and lit the flame during his rally that morning. Twenty-four hours later, after people begged for him to call off the riot, he finally conceded. The Electoral College results were certified 306 to 232 at 3:41 AM on January 7th. The almost 80 days between Election Day and Inauguration Day were nowhere near a smooth transition for the new administration to attempt to get past the deadlock that we have all come to know in Washington.