Here’s how long states have to count votes, according to federal law


A version of this story was published October 18, 2020.

But he hasn’t won, because all the votes haven’t been counted — and in some ways, the process is just getting started.

While Americans vote on or before Election Day, picking the US president is actually a months-long process and the election is just one step.

The system is especially confusing because voters only cast ballots to determine which candidate gets to send a handpicked group of allies known as electors to the Electoral College, where the actual presidential vote takes place. (Here’s a refresher on that.)

The whole timeline is below.