Speed Reads

Dying embers

Tuesday's 'safe harbor' deadline essentially ends Trump's doomed election challenges

President Trump's janky legal and political campaign to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden through the courts and state legislatures effectively dies Tuesday, when the "safe harbor" deadline presumptively locks in certified vote counts. As of Monday night, 47 states and the District of Columbia have certified their results, giving Biden electoral votes to spare, according to Reuters' tally. When the Electoral College formally casts ballots on Dec. 14, Biden should have 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232.

Under the 1887 Electoral Count Act, each state's slate of electors chosen by the "safe harbor" date "is final and presumptively cannot be challenged in court or in Congress," CNN's Elie Honig explains. "The states are not required to finalize their electoral votes by the safe harbor date — but if they do, those determinations are protected by federal law," so this "should effectively extinguish any dying embers of hope even for the last few remaining election denialists."

"Trump's legal team publicly says the safe harbor deadline is meaningless and they'll simply disregard it," since it isn't enshrined in the Constitution, Politico reports. "But the campaign's legal filings tell another story," and "as Trump attempts to bludgeon his way to a second term, judges and lawyers for both sides have also treated the safe-harbor deadline as a cause for urgency." There will still be a bit of drama as Trump allies in Congress challenge the final results Jan. 6, and Trump may have other reasons for publicly keeping up his losing fight.

But "Trump's allies have increasingly acknowledged their losing legal hand," Politico reports, and the accumulating losses "have all underscored a reality that seems to be sinking in inside Trump's orbit: It's over."