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Do you Know it's "Safe Harbor" Day?

You might have thought this year’s elections were over on November 3 — or soon thereafter.

Not exactly!

Hence this election update and civics primer:

For starters: It wasn’t until last Thursday that Oregon elections officials certified the November 3 vote. (I’m happy to report my election to a third term as Oregon's Attorney General was part of that certification.)

Here’s where things get interesting: Do you know that when you voted for President and Vice President you actually voted for a slate of electors chosen by our state’s political parties? Or that your vote is just the first of several steps needed to formally elect a President?

Each one of these steps is an opportunity for mischief, and with an angry, dishonest person in the White House — and at least 50 lawsuits filed on his behalf to try to overturn the election — the process is unusually fraught this year.

I am cautiously glad to report that the center is holding — thanks, in significant part, to the actions of heroic state election officials, as well as the rulings of judges — a number of whom are Trump appointees. My favorite came from one of the judges overseeing Pennsylvania’s election: “Charges of unfairness are serious,” wrote Court of Appeals Judge Stephanos Bibas. “But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.” Other judges have similarly been put off by the baseless charges and lack of evidence. Another recent Trump appointee in Wisconsin called the lawsuit's claims before him: “bizarre."

Trump has also been trying to prevent governors from preparing documents known as Certificates of Ascertainment of the vote. Most governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, had done this by last Friday — and are required by federal law to do so by today, December 8, “Safe Harbor" Day. All electoral votes certified by today must be accepted by Congress on January 6.

Six days from now, on December 14, the 50 states’ electors meet to cast their ballots. They are directed by statute to deliver certificates of their results “to all relevant parties” by the fourth Wednesday in December. (This year, that is Dec. 23.)

Action by Congress is next. On January 6, 2021 (my birthday!) at 1:00 p.m. ET, the Senate and House of Representatives will meet in joint session to count the electors’ votes and declare the winner. Then, on January 20 — Inauguration Day (my husband’s birthday!) — President Biden and Vice President Harris will be sworn in.

Of course, there will be more challenges along the way. But dozens of America’s most capable lawyers — including state attorneys general — and dozens more elected officials stand ready to block whatever nonsense may ensue between now and then, as Trump tries to employ extra-legal measures to steal the election. People like him can threaten the very basis of our republic and do lasting harm to our democracy. But so long as the Rule of Law prevails — as it has — we will survive, and even thrive.

Thank you for reading to this point. I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of the true value of your commitment to our democracy. And I wanted to share with you my sense of hopefulness. We’ve all struggled in 2020, but our efforts will turn out to have made a crucial difference.

Joe Biden is already demonstrating why he won the election. He is human. He is real. He cares. And he is competent. My former AG colleague, Kamala Harris, will be a fantastic Vice President. And I am so proud of my California AG colleague, Xavier Becerra, who will lead the Department of Health and Human Services with humanity and with his proven knowledge of the legal and policy world of health care.

For myself, I look forward to beginning a third term in January, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve done to make our precious democracy work.


Posted on December 8, 2020.
Oregon is a special place. As Attorney General, I am working hard to keep it that way for future generations of Oregonians.Oregon is a special place. As Attorney General, I am working hard to keep it that way for future generations of Oregonians.

Meet Ellen

As a prosecutor and judge, Ellen Rosenblum has spent her career fighting for and protecting the people of Oregon.

Now, as our Attorney General, she's standing up for the most vulnerable Oregonians, our seniors and diverse communities, small businesses, and all the people of Oregon.

Read more about Ellen